COVID-19 pandemic in Israel
The COVID-19 pandemic in Israel (Hebrew: מגפת הקורונה בישראל) is part of the worldwide pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The first case in Israel was confirmed on 21 February 2020, when a female citizen tested positive for coronavirus disease 2019 at the Sheba Medical Center after return from quarantine on the Diamond Princess ship in Japan. As a result, a 14-day home isolation rule was instituted for anyone who had visited South Korea or Japan, and a ban was placed on non-residents and non-citizens who were in South Korea for 14 days before their arrival.Beginning on 11 March, Israel began enforcing social distancing and other rules to limit the spread of infection. Gatherings were first restricted to no more than 100 people, and on 15 March this figure was lowered to 10 people, with attendees advised to keep a distance of 2 m (6 ft 7 in) between one another. On 19 March, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared a national state of emergency, saying that existing restrictions would henceforth be legally enforceable, and violators would be fined. Israelis were not allowed to leave their homes unless absolutely necessary. Essential services—including food stores, pharmacies, and banks—would remain open. Restrictions on movement were further tightened on 25 March and 1 April, with everyone instructed to cover their noses and mouths outdoors. As coronavirus diagnoses spiked in the city of Bnei Brak, reaching nearly 1,000 infected people at the beginning of April, the cabinet voted to declare the city a "restricted zone", limiting entry and exit for a period of one week. Coinciding with the Passover Seder on the night of 8 April, lawmakers ordered a 3-day travel ban and mandated that Israelis stay within 100 m (330 ft) of their home on the night of the Seder. On 12 April, Haredi neighborhoods in Jerusalem were placed under closure.
On 20 March, an 88-year-old Holocaust survivor in Jerusalem who suffered from previous illnesses was announced as the country's first casualty.The first wave of the pandemic came amid the under a caretaker government, as no new ruling coalition had been formed following the 2020 Israeli legislative election, the third since the dissolution of the government in December 2018. Netanyahu continued to act as prime minister, and has been accused of adopting additional powers in the effort to monitor and contain the spread of the virus. A national unity government was sworn in on 17 May 2020. During the second wave, movements such as the 'Black Flags' and the gatherings in front of Netanyahu's residence protested his government's response to the virus. During the third wave, on 22 December 2020, the national unity government collapsed, triggering a fourth election in two years.