Coronavirus Israel Live: Thousand Gather in Tel Aviv for Purim Despite COVID Curfew

Israel is in the midst of an extensive vaccination campaign, and is beginning to see a drop in COVID infections and severe cases. Israel exited its third nationwide lockdown, but inbound and outbound flights remain suspended except for special cases. So far, 5,694 Israelis have died of the virus.

Meanwhile, Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have received 30,000 doses of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, and 2,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine donated by Israel. It may take a while still for a mass vaccination campaign to get under way, and many months for it to reach enough members of the population. 1,679 people have died so far in the West Bank, while 548 have died in Gaza.

>> How many have already been vaccinated

>> Two months into Israel’s COVID vaccination drive, most comprehensive study yet shows level of effectiveness

>> Bernie Sanders slams Israel for sending COVID vaccines to allies before Palestinians


7:20 P.M. Thousands gather in Tel Aviv street parties

Thousands gathered to celebrate the Purim holiday on the streets of Tel Aviv on Friday, despite the coronavirus curfew and regulations. Police tried, but failed, to disperse groups of hundreds of people in the Kerem Hateimanim neighborhood and the nearby Carmel Market, threatening them with fines.

According to eyewitnesses, the parties were not organized but rather spontaneous gatherings of people who had bought alcohol from local bars and celebrated in the streets, many of them not wearing face masks to protect against the coronavirus.

On Thursday, Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai requested in a briefing for Tel Aviv District Police that officers focus on enforcement and making public announcements to disperse large groups. (Bar Peleg)

3:41 P.M. Cabinet orders halt on public transportation to and from Jerusalem for Purim

All public transportation and shuttles to and from Jerusalem will stop operating won't be allowed to operate starting Saturday at 6 P.M., and can resume services on Monday, the coronavirus cabinet decided.

While nighttime curfew across Israel expires on Sunday, Purim celebrations in Jerusalem are traditionally held a day later than the rest of the country, hence the specific restrictions for the city.

Organized shuttles to workplaces and school buses are allowed to operate as usual. 

Private cars will be permitted to enter and leave Jerusalem during the 30-hour period. (Haaretz)

2:55 P.M. Police disperse crowds in Tel Aviv hours before holiday curfew resumes

Hours before the nighttime curfew goes into effect this Purim holiday weekend, on Friday afternoon, police dispersed crowds in Tel Aviv's Carmel Market and Kerem Hateimanim, threatening to hand out fines.

The police began dispersing the crowds about two hours after they began to form. Although hundreds had gathered, with people buying alcohol at local bars and kiosks, this was not an organized street party. 

Elsewhere in Tel Aviv, people took to the streets to celebrate Purim, before the curfew resumes at 8:30 P.M., lasting until 5 A.M., and again on Saturday. During curfew hours, Israelis in Jewish-majority localities are banned from visiting other people's homes and are required to stay within a 1,000-meter radius of their own home, barring exceptional circumstances. (Bar Peleg)

12:25 P.M. COVID-19 infection coefficient on the rise again, indicating that the virus is spreading instead of retreating