Dear Israel – Why in a Democracy Hit with a Pandemic are Rabbis Allowed to Dictate the Law? Close Yeshivas and Prosecute.

A Palestinian sanitary department worker sprays disinfectant around Aida refugee camp, West Bank, March 16, 2020.

Highlights from Ha’Aretz in Israel – Covid-19 and Potential for Human Killing Machines…

To read the Ha’Aretz Article in its entirety, click here.

LIVE UPDATES:

■ 433 Israelis have so far tested positive for the novel coronavirus, known as COVID-19, with the vast majority of cases mild and 12 recoveries. Six patients are in serious condition. In the West Bank, 44 cases have been diagnosed so far, the majority of them in Bethlehem. Another 3,900 Palestinians have been placed in quarantine.

11:02 P.M. Chief rabbi says hospital synagogues will be closed amid difficulty to maintain social distancing

10:47 P.M. Nine Israeli soldiers contract COVID-19, over 5,000 placed in quarantine

The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said that nine soldiers have tested positive for the coronavirus, with 5,630 soldiers in mandatory service as well as career soldiers placed in quarantine.

Most of the confirmed patients in the army have returned from vacations abroad, with some of them coming into contact with people who were also diagnosed with the virus. (Yaniv Kubovich)

9:40 Prominent rabbi instructs to continue Torah studies in violation of Health Ministry directives

Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, the spiritual leader of the United Torah Judaism party, ordered the ultra-Orthodox community to continue Torah studies in Haredi educational institutions despite the new Health Ministry directives forbidding it. (Aaron Rabinowitz) 

2:43 P.M. Police investigating quarantine violations, fake news

The police have until now investigated 86 people for quarantine violations and 21 people suspected of spreading fake news. In addition, the police issued 21 closure orders to business that kept operating despite directives, including event venues and gym.

12:34 P.M. Virus can persist in air for hours, study finds

The highly contagious novel coronavirus that has exploded into a global pandemic can remain viable and infectious in droplets in the air for hours and on surfaces up to days, according to a new study that should offer guidance to help people avoid contracting the respiratory illness called COVID-19.

Scientists from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, attempted to mimic the virus deposited from an infected person onto everyday surfaces in a household or hospital setting, such as through coughing or touching objects. (Reuters) Read the full report here

7:40 A.M. Health Ministry announces 90 new cases

427 Israelis have so far tested positive for the novel coronavirus, up 27 percent from the previous tally of 337 cases, as testing for the disease expands.

7:38 A.M. Police make arrests for violating public health orders

The Israel Police arrested tne [sic] suspects who held a wedding with 150 guests in a synagogue in Beit Shemesh, violating the prohibition on gatherings larger than 10. (Josh Breiner)

Justice for the Abused, Holding Israeli Minister Accountable for his Complicity and His Complacence

Police call for Israeli minister to stand trial over paedophile case intervention

UTJ head Yaakov Litzman accused of attempting to prevent the extradition of teacher wanted over child molestation charges in Australia

Police in Israel have recommended indicting the country’s deputy health minister for bribery, fraud, witness tampering and breach of trust, with the politician accused of using his influence in the government to prevent the extradition of a child molester.

Yaakov Litzman, who is also chair of the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism (UTJ) party, is suspected of – among other accusations – standing in the way of former Jewish religious school headteacher Malka Leifer being sent to Australia.

Leifer is wanted on charges of 74 accounts of rape and sexual assault in Melbourne. However, despite being arrested in 2014, attempts to extradite her have been blocked and delayed for multiple reasons.

In a statement, the police said the Lahav 433 anti-corruption unit and the National Fraud Investigation Unit said they had gathered enough evidence to put Litzman on trial over his involvement with Leifer, as well as for intervening to improve the conditions for a number of other imprisoned sex offenders.

Litzman was originally questioned by police in February over allegations that he had intervened in a medical assessment over whether Leifer was mentally fit to be deported.

Both Leifer and Litzman belong to the same ultra-Orthodox Jewish religious denomination.

Litzman’s office has repeatedly denied the allegations.

Since the scandal first erupted, the Jewish school that hired Leifer has been ordered to pay more than $1.1m in compensatory damages to the alleged victims.

Leifer fled to Israel in 2008 shortly after the allegations against her were first reported – prior to her arrest she lived in a settlement in the occupied West Bank. She is currently being held in Neve Tirza prison.

Jerusalem District Court is set to hand down a final decision on Leifer’s mental fitness for an extradition hearing on 23 September, according to the Times of Israel.

A report on Israel’s Channel 13 news in May reported that Litzman had helped at least 10 serious sex offenders improve their prison conditions – including securing home visits and other benefits- and applying pressure on state psychiatrists and prisons service officials.

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