Arab-Israeli towns put on lockdown for week
21 April 2020 - The jerusalem post
The lockdown, similar to the one imposed on Israeli cities during Passover, was made a week ahead of the Ramadan holiday, which concerned authorities about the potential spread of coronavirus.
As part of the closure of the Arab-Israeli towns of Deir el-Asad and Beineh, located in the Galilee region in northern Israel, police set up several roadblocks and will not allow for the exit and entry of non-residents into the towns, except for essential workers and in urgent and humanitarian cases.
The police will enforce the closure and troops from the Home Front Command will supply residents with food and other essential goods. The troops will also help Magen David Adom carry out tests for the virus among residents.
The lockdown, similar to the one imposed on Israeli cities during Passover, was made a week ahead of the Ramadan holiday, which concerned authorities about the potential spread of the deadly virus among families.
The closure, which began at 8 a.m. Saturday morning, will last one week.
Raed Kabha, head of the Basma Local Council, told The Jerusalem Post in a recent interview that authorities should place a lockdown on Arab communities ahead of Ramadan.
"If the regulations are clear during Ramadan then people will stay home. People are scared: it's a matter of life or death," he said. "Everyone wants a lockdown. If we can close the entire country, we should. We will suffer for one or two weeks, and that's ok. People might not die from an economic recession but people die from the coronavirus."
Kabha told the Post that there is one confirmed case in each village in the council of 10,300 citizens – Barta'a West, Ein as-Sahala and Muawiya – and another 16 people in quarantine.
But while only three people have been diagnosed with the virus, "the number of sick will rise" as more coronavirus tests are done on family members who were in close contact with the confirmed patients.
"The moment that there will be more tests, there will be more cases," Kabha said, explaining that with some people not showing any symptoms, the risk of the virus spreading remains. "If I had the ability, I'd check every resident of every village."
Complaints mounted in the Arab sector regarding the state's slow response to halt the spread of the deadly virus in villages across northern Israel.
According to data published by Haaretz, there are 72 cases in Deir el-Asad, 58 in Umm el-Fahm and another 38 in the coastal town of Jisr al-Zarqa including
11 cases from one family alone.
While there are a total of 546 confirmed cases of the virus among Arab Israelis, officials are concerned that the real number is much higher due to the relatively small number of tests being conducted.
While the army has been working well alongside municipalities in the Arab sector and delivering some 200,000 packages of food and hygienic products, IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Hidai Zilberman said Thursday that the military was told not to deliver packages to specific homes and instead to bring them to the municipality to deliver to the families, in order to reduce possible friction.