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April 14, 2020 9:26 am
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Israel Goes Into Near-Total Coronavirus Lockdown for End of Passover Holiday

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Border policemen chat with a driver at a roadblock set up as part of efforts to enforce a national lockdown to fight the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), on a road leading to Jerusalem, near Ein Hemed, Israel, April 7, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Ronen Zvulun.

Israel was set for a near-total lockdown for the end of Passover due to the coronavirus crisis, with a heavy police presence deployed to enforce the closure.

The Israeli news site N12 reported that the lockdown was to begin at 5 p.m. on Tuesday and last until early Thursday morning.

Citizens will be forbidden to travel between cities and 44 police roadblocks and hundreds of checkpoints on major roads will enforce the measure.

Nearly 9,000 police officers will be deployed for the closure, including a major presence within cities themselves.

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The police will also prevent gatherings beyond the immediate family and the opening of bakeries, which are usually swamped by customers once Passover — a week-long holiday during which Jews traditionally abstain from eating leavened bread — comes to an end.

The news site Walla quoted a police source as saying, “We will increase the enforcement around the bakeries with the aim of not allowing them to open as stated in the regulations and to prevent crowds.”

“There will be designated forces to patrol the bakeries and make sure they are closed,” the source added. “A bakery owner who opens will have strict enforcement against him.”

“Citizens who test the police and gather near bakeries will receive a fine,” the source said. “Not only will the bakery owner risk a high fine for opening, but also customers who buy at the end of the holiday.”

The bakeries must remain closed until 2 a.m. on Thursday.

Police will also focus on commercial areas, parks and beaches to prevent holiday gatherings.

Authorities are also concerned because the end of Passover is marked by the holiday of Mimouna, which is celebrated by Jews of Moroccan heritage and is usually an occasion for large family gatherings and public celebrations.

The deployment of police is scheduled to end at 7 p.m. on Thursday.

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