Israel Registers First Coronavirus Death as Number of Cases Surges Past 800

As the highly contagious coronavirus spreads around the world, Israel and the 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.

Israel saw its first fatality from the virus: Eighty-eight-year-old Arie Even, who suffered from other illnesses and arrived at Jerusalem's Shaare Zedek Medical Center about a week ago in critical condition.  

■ 883 Israelis have so far tested positive for the coronavirus, with the vast majority of cases mild and 36 recoveries. One patient has died and 15 are in serious condition. In the West Bank, 52 cases have been diagnosed so far, and 17 have recovered, the majority of them in Bethlehem. Another 3,900 Palestinians have been placed in quarantine.

■ Israel's government approved additional measures to limit movement of citizens and trade, shuttering cultural and recreational establishments as well as schools and universities and banning gatherings of over 10 people. Read the complete guide to the lockdown

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

– Haaretz Weekly Ep. 69

Will Israel’s cyber spies let Bibi use coronavirus to kill democracy?Haaretz


08:50 P.M. Netanyahu says coronavirus can kill thousands in Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Saturday night on Channel 12 News that the coronavirus crisis "can cause thousands of deaths. It's not a spin, it's not a whim, it's reality … I'm trying to stop it from becoming a huge outbreak."

"I think I’m taking the right steps. I’m getting a lot of compliments," added the prime minister. (Haaretz)

8:20 P.M. Israeli Transportation Minister quarantined after contact with patient

Yamina MK and Transportation Minister Betzalel Smotrich has been quarantined after coming in contact with a recently diagnosed coronavirus patient on Tuesday and will remain in isolation until March 31. (Osnat Nir)

8:00 P.M. Netanyahu says open shopping centers will remain open for now

Arie Even.Courtesy of the family

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided that the open shopping centers will remain open at this stage, and this decision will be re-examined in three days. A store that fails to comply with the Health Ministry (up to 4 people per register and keeping 2 meter distance between people). (Noa Landau)

7:15 P.M. 28,000 more Israelis register for unemployment benefits

The Government Employment Agency reported an increase in the number of Israelis applying for unemployment benefits after 28,000 applied in a day, bringing total to 503,915 so far since the beginning of the month. (Lee Yaron)

7:00 P.M. Israeli courts operate as usual, despite conflicting reports, says Supreme Court Justice

– Empty Tel Aviv from bird’s-eye-view