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Israelis Alarmed as Rise in COVID Cases Triggers Rumours of Looming Lockdown

© REUTERS / RONEN ZVULUNA man receives a vaccination against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in an IKEA store in Rishon Lezion, Israel February 22, 2021.
A man receives a vaccination against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in an IKEA store in Rishon Lezion, Israel February 22, 2021.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 26.08.2021
Each week of a lockdown costs Israel some $3 billion. Previously, that measure has led to the shutting down of thousands of small and medium-sized businesses. It has left millions of Israelis jobless, and this is something that many would like to prevent this time.
Debates about a possible lockdown have taken over Israeli social media, despite nearly six out of the country’s nine million people being fully vaccinated and over 1.7 million having received a booster jab or third shot of the Pfizer vaccine.
The number of coronavirus patients continues to rise, with Wednesday registering 10,000 cases, and the concern is that Israel might not have any other option but to introduce a full lockdown during the entire holiday season, which will kick off in the beginning of September.
Such a possibility has already prompted a lively discussion on social media networks, and some Twitter users say they support the idea of imposing a lockdown.
"Every day that passes without a lockdown, more people are murdered," wrote one Twitter user.
So far, nearly 7,000 Israelis have lost their lives due to COVID-19. Currently, the nation has almost 700 severe patients, with 187 of them in critical condition. 139 are connected to ventilators.
"I am supportive of a lockdown, if this is what we need. But they [the government] don't impose one. Instead, they are introducing restrictions that we find hard to understand...," wrote another.


But for the majority of tweeps, a lockdown is not even an option.
"I am against a fourth lockdown, or any lockdown. I am in favour of tackling the pandemic professionally, through education and law enforcement, and through punishing those who disobey."
​"If there is another lockdown, I am telling you honestly that I will not be able to survive it," wrote one tweep.
​Another one stated: "We cannot go to a lockdown. It is not a solution. It is suicide."
​Every week of a lockdown has cost Israel nearly $3 billion. As a result of that strict measure, 75,000 small and medium-sized Israeli businesses closed their doors for good in 2020 alone, pushing the unemployment rate to unprecedented heights.
Israel managed to lower unemployment to 9.6 percent by May, the lowest rate since the arrival of COVID-19 last February. However, the concern is that another lockdown will reverse the situation and deal a severe blow to businesses and individuals.
This is why many tweeps are urging the government to keep the country open for business. Rather, they demand that the authorities implement restrictive measures and strict enforcement to make sure that the virus stops spreading.
"Kids should go back to school, as another year of solitude will damage them for life. Businesses should be able to function, otherwise our economy will collapse. The airport should remain open but you need to enforce order and punish those who don't quarantine themselves. Israel has more than a million that haven’t been vaccinated yet. We need to encourage those to get the vaccine..."
For now, the government has been dragging its feet, refusing to take tough decisions. Israel's Ben Gurion Airport is still open, and while those coming back from abroad are required to quarantine themselves, law enforcement agencies are struggling to check each and every person.
​A similar situation is also observed in many public places, including shops and sport clubs, where despite the requirement to wear masks, not many are following rules, and there is nobody to fine them.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is putting an emphasis on the vaccines and stresses that the only way out of the current mess is through herd immunity. But with many Israelis still undecided on whether they would like to get a jab, and with the number of sick patients climbing, his government might not have a choice but to take the unpopular step of closing down the country once again.
How will Israelis take it? A recent poll has already found that 58 percent will consider such a move a failure of the current government and if this is the case, the stability of the current coalition might be in danger.
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