Updated: Sep 18
In March, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many eyes were on Israel and the way it was handling COVID-19. On March 11th, Israel began enforcing social distancing measures and other restrictions to limit the spread of the disease. On March 19th, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared a national state of emergency, and Israel went under strict lockdown. Israelis were not allowed to leave their houses, unless it was essential. In May, Netanyahu began easing restrictions, but reintroduced them in July after a rise in cases.
On September 10th, Israel had the highest number of cases per million people in the world. On September 13th, the government approved another lockdown; this one was meant to last three weeks. Citizens were not allowed past 0.3 miles from their homes, and most public areas were closed. This lockdown took place during the High Holidays. Many students at Barrack Hebrew Academy were upset that High Holidays had to take place over Zoom, but it is worth remembering that, in Israel, the laws and regulations were even more strict than in the United States. However, this lockdown didn’t seem to work, as Netanyahu had to introduce even stricter rules on September 23rd. The lockdown ended at midnight on October 18th, over a month after it was called.
The government also provided financial assistance during this time, extending unemployment payments and handing out grants to businesses and people who were suffering. Similar to the Black Lives Matter protests in the United States, protests took place in Israel. However, the protests in Israel were happening for a different reason. During July and August, protests were held to express concern and anger over the response of Netanyahu and his government to the pandemic. In response to the protests, the Knesset (Israeli parliament) passed a law restricting citizens from having gatherings more than 0.6 miles from their homes. This was intended to curb the protests against Netanyahu and the government.
On a more positive note, Israel is known for its technological advances and scientific intelligence, so it came as no surprise when an Israeli scientist came forward with a new way of testing for COVID-19. This new method used a “breathalyzer” that could give results in 30 seconds, with an accuracy rate of 85%. This device is now being tested and could be ready to use within months.
Overall, Israel took a different approach to handle the pandemic than American President Donald Trump and some other world leaders. Israel opted to go under an incredibly strict lockdown, while other countries did not take this route. However, both Israel and America ended with high numbers of cases, though Israel’s death count is lower. This shows just how dangerous COVID-19 is and how all nations should be watching the world to see what other countries are doing to prevent its spread.