Thousands attend Jerusalem funeral, following epidemic rules

JERUSALEM (AP) – Thousands of ultra-Orthodox Israelis attended the funeral of a prominent rabbi in Jerusalem on Sunday, watering the country’s ban at large public ceremonies during the epidemic.

The funeral procession for Rabbi Mezulam Solovic, who died at the age of 99, turned his way through the streets of Jerusalem in the latest display of ultra-Orthodox Israelis and refused to honor coronovirus restrictions. Police estimated that more than 10,000 people joined the procession and said they issued dozens of tickets for failing the head lockdown rules.

The incident has brought the country’s aggressive vaccination campaign under control and threatened to hurt Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu In the March elections. One challenger accused Netanyahu of failing to enforce the law due to political pressure from his ultra-conservative political allies.

There was a dense crowd of people outside the Rabbi’s house, ignoring the ban on outdoor ceremonies of more than 10 people. Many did not wear masks. Thousands of black-necked ultra-Orthodox funeral-goers departed towards the cemetery at the city’s main gate, where Soloveitchik was to be buried. A handful of police officers blocked the intersections to allow the participants to pass, but took no steps to prevent illegal assembly.

Israeli media said that Soloveitchik, a prominent religious scholar who led several well-known seminars, had recently suffered from COVID-19.

The Israeli Ministry of Health has reported 640,000 cases of coronovirus and at least 4,745 deaths since the onset of the epidemic.

Israel has recently averaged over 6,000 confirmed cases of coronovirus each day, the highest infection rate in developing countries. At the same time, Israel has vaccinated over 3 million of its citizens, one of the highest per capita rates in the world.

Health experts say the vaccination campaign will take several weeks to impact on infection and hospitalization rates. But large public funerals, such as those for Soloveitchik in Jerusalem, and a prominent Arab sheikh killed in Jaffa last week, confused efforts to stop the spread of the disease.

An odd number of Israel’s coronovirus cases lie within the country’s ultra-conservative minority. The strictly religious community, which makes up about 11% of Israel’s 9.2 million people, has been responsible for about 40% of new cases.

Many ultra-Orthodox denominations have kept schools, seminars and gatherings open, and have held mass marriages and funerals in violation of restrictions that have closed schools and many businesses in other parts of the country. Recent weeks have seen violent clashes between members of the ultra-conservative community who are trying to enforce rules and police officers.

Ultra-Orthodox leaders say they have been unfairly contested and argue that the country’s secular public does not understand the importance of public prayer and religious studies in their community. They claim that the scroflaws are a small part of their diverse community, and blame the living conditions for the outbreak.

Netanyahu has long relied on ultra-conservative parties for support, and critics say he has dissuaded his allies from protesting before important elections. Without ultra-conservative support, it would be extremely difficult for Netanyahu to contend with a governing coalition – especially when he seeks immunity from an ongoing corruption trial.

But there are indications that this coalition may become an obligation due to widespread public anger over ultra-conservative behavior during the epidemic. A survey last week indicated that more than 60% of Israelis do not want to serve ultra-conservative parties in the next coalition.

Gideon Saar, a right-wing Israeli politician who challenged Netanyahu in the polls, criticized the prime minister on Twitter, saying, “The pictures from Jerusalem prove that Netanyahu has abandoned enforcing the law for political reasons.” This will not happen in the government under my leadership. There will be a law for all and it will be implemented. ”

Israel’s cabinet was scheduled to extend the country’s normal lockdown on Sunday evening for an additional week as the transition rate remained high.

The government closed the movement and schools and non-essential businesses last month in an effort to shut down Israel’s fugitive epidemic.


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