Israeli coronavirus tsar confronts ultra-Orthodox, Netanyahu ally

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Its flagship initiative was the traffic light plan. This would give mayors the tools they need to react quickly to new epidemics, but also give them the incentive they would need – by relaxing restrictions – to win public cooperation.

If it worked, he said, it could help delay another nationwide lockdown until military contact tracers are ready for an expected resurgence of the virus in the fall.

The political problem was that almost all of the red towns turned out to be predominantly Arab or ultra-Orthodox. And every action affecting the ultra-Orthodox sector has sparked heavy pushbacks.

After a public outcry over the planned arrival of 12,000 or more yeshivas from overseas, said Dr Gamzu, he reduced the number to 4,000.

Dr Gamzu also wrote to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and warned of potentially dire health consequences if tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox were allowed to make an annual pilgrimage to Uman, the burial place of a revered 18th century rabbi.

Ukraine has closed its borders and Dr Gamzu has been accused of exceeding his pay level – and stoking anti-Semitism, nothing less – by politicians, including the coalition whip of his own party. Mr. Netanyahu, Likud.

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