Israel Coronavirus Cases Spike by 27 Percent, Top Brass to Prepare for Full Lockdown

As the highly contagious novel coronavirus spreads around the world, Israel and Palestinians struggle to contain a local outbreak that has virtually halted daily life and led to tens of thousands of people entering quarantine.

Bypassing the necessary approval from the Knesset, the government approved the tracking of cellphones by the Shin Bet security service in order to inform people who unwittingly came in contact with confirmed coronavirus patients.

■ 433 Israelis have so far tested positive for the novel coronavirus, known as COVID-19, with the vast majority of cases mild and 11 recoveries. In the West Bank, 44 cases have been diagnosed so far, the majority of them in Bethlehem. Another 3,900 Palestinians have been placed in quarantine. 

■ Israel urged citizens to stay at home, shuttering cultural and recreational establishments as well as schools and universities and banning gatherings of over 10 people. The private sector sent home 70 percent of employees and the public sector is operating under a state of emergency. Read the complete guide to the lockdown 

■ All foreigners are not allowed to enter Israel, unless they can prove they are able to self-quarantine for 14 days upon their arrival. Read the full guide for tourists and Israelis

– Israel’s coronavirus crisis could be Bibi’s swan song. Haaretz weekly podcast

Israel’s coronavirus crisis could be Bibi’s swan song. Haaretz weekly podcast


4:26 Health Ministry orders shuttering ultra-Orthodox educational institutions

Israel's Health Ministry has issued a warrant obligating the Haredi community to shutter its educational institutions to slow the spread the global pandemic, known as COVID-19. (Aaron Rabinowitz)  

3:58 P.M. Almost 4,000 Palestinians enter home quarantine in the West Bank

After 44 people have tested positive for coronavirus in the West Bank, with the majority of them from Bethlehem, some 3,859 Palestinians have entered home quarantine and 37 have been placed in isolation in a closed facility.

The Palestinian government announced it would employ harsher measures in the Bethlehem area to halt the outbreak. (Jack Khoury)

3:34 P.M. Netanyahu hold discussion on virus spread, considering full lockdown

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is holding a video consultation, discussing  future steps to battle the coronavirus.

Netanyahu is considering new ways of action, including stepping up enforcement and putting the country in full lockdown.

Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, Defense Minister Naftali Bennett, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, Security Council head Meir Ben Shabbat, and Director General of the Ministry of Health Moshe Bar Siman Tov are among those participating in the discussion. (Noa Landau)  

3:27 P.M. Israel's president warns parliament speaker against undermining democracy

President Reuven Rivlin warned Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein of Likud that paralyzing the Knesset harms the county's ability to function during an emergency.

The coronavirus crisis, Rivlin said, must not be allowed "to critically damage our democratic infrastructure."

The president's warning comes after lawmakers from Prime MInister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud and Benny Gantz's Kahol Lavan could not agree on forming the committees which govern the parliament's activities – two weeks after the elections were held.

Speaker Edelstein has adjourned the session until next Monday.