As Covid-19 continues to be a major problem and Israel faces a three-week lockdown beginning on Rosh Hashanah (Yom Teruah for Karaites), Israel is now 17th in the list of countries worldwide for the number of coronavirus tests (297,533) per million people, just ahead of the UK with 283,901.
Over the last week, Israel has remained 18th in the list of cases of coronavirus per million people (16,918). compared to the UK in 59th (5.423), and has risen to 54th in the list of deaths per million people (122 per million) compared to the UK in 10th place with 613 deaths per million: a testament to the heroes of Magen David Adom and all those involved in the Israeli health system.
What about life in the disputed territories?
Cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority has been described as "excellent" by the United Nations. The disputed territories commonly known as the West Bank and Gaza have risen to 54th in the number of cases per million people (5,966) and have risen again to 91st for the number of deaths per million: at just 43, still much better than Israel. As the number of cases continues to rise, they have are now in 86th place for the number of tests per million people.
Tens of thousands of Palestinians usually work in Israel, but many have lost jobs due to the economic downturn while others fear transmitting coronavirus to their families and neighbours when they return to the West Bank.
It has been revealed today (Sunday 13 September) that a complete three-week lockdown will begin at 2 pm this coming Friday, just ahead of the holy day of Rosh Hashanah/Yom Teruah. Israelis will not restricted to just 500m from home, other than for essential services. Supermarkets and pharmacies will remain open and Health Minister Yuli Edelstein claims that there is light at the end of the tunnel if Israelis stick to the rules.
Professor Ronni Gamzu warned last week of potentially 300 Covid related deaths during September, and a scathing report in the Jerusalem Post severely criticised the government for failing to anticipate the second wave of attacks when departments began lifting restrictions in May. Professor Gamzu in the same article highlights the problems which ministers face when making politically unpopular decisions. Although he does not specify it, we wonder if the reliance in recent years by Likud on support from the Haredi parties is coming home to roost with many Haredi communities particularly affected by the Coronavirus. For the lockdown to be successful requires the cooperation of both Haredi and Arab communities in which rates of infection are highest and trust in the government is lowest.