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.

■ 427 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. 

■ 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


3:27 P.M. Israel's president warns parliament speaker against undermining democracy
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin warned Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (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 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. More details soon… (Jonathan Lis)

Read more on Netanyahu’s coronavirus coup: Israelis’ basic rights are now on life support by Eva Blum-Dumontet

3:26 P.M. Report: Eurovision Song Contest will be canceled due to coronavirus outbreak

The Eurovision song contest will not take place this year in Rotterdam due to the global coronavirus outbreak, organizers said.

"It is with deep regret that we have to announce the cancellation of the Eurovision Song Contest 2020 in Rotterdam," they said in a statement. "It is impossible to continue with the live event as planned."  (Reuters)

2:43 P.M. Police investigating quarantine violations, fake news