Friday, August 19th | 22 Av 5782

April 19, 2020 7:25 pm

Netanyahu Asks Israeli Muslims to Confine Ramadan Observances to ‘Nuclear Family’

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Muslims, including supporters of national soccer teams, attend an Eid al-Fitr mass prayer to mark the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan in Saint Petersburg, Russia June 15, 2018. Photo: REUTERS/Anton Vaganov.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked Israel’s Muslim community over the weekend to obey ongoing coronavirus restrictions for the month of Ramadan as the infection rates in Arab communities skyrocketed.

A statement by Netanyahu and the Health and Finance Ministry Director-Generals noted that during Passover, “We imposed restrictions on movement and a general lockdown on holidays.”

“I would now like to turn to our Muslim citizens,” Netanyahu said. “Ramadan is almost upon us. Just as the Jewish citizens of Israel acted during Passover, I now request that you have the Ramadan meals only with your nuclear family.”

“I ask you to preserve the whole and thus take care of yourselves and your loved ones,” the prime minister added.

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At the same time, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Israel Police Commissioner Motti Cohen visited Israel’s north, which has a large Arab population, to examine preparations by the Police and Home Front Command for the Ramadan holiday and to meet with leaders of the Arab sector.

“The month of Ramadan is the most significant challenge for us in the fight against coronavirus, especially given the increase in the number of coronavirus patients in the Arab communities,” Erdan said during a visit to the town of Deir al-Asad, according to Israeli news website Walla.

“We are in this fight together,” he asserted. “The coronavirus crisis ties our destiny together, and does not differentiate between the different religions, so there must be mutual responsibility above all.”

In the town of Majd al-Krum, local police commander Yaki Ohana commented, “The situation in the communities is difficult. There is a sense of uncertainty, a rapid rise in morbidity and financial difficulty.”

“The police are instructed to exercise discretion to solve any problems and distress that arises,” he added.

A full lockdown was imposed yesterday on many Arab communities in the north, and it is expected to continue all week. Checkpoints have been set up and citizens are not permitted to be more than 100 meters from home except for buying essential food or medicine.

This is the first time Arab communities have been locked down since the coronavirus crisis began. Israel’s Home Front Command is working to ensure essential supplies are provided to the communities under lockdown.

Infection and morbidity rates have recently been rising in Arab communities, the morbidity rate in Deir al-Asad, for example, is second only to the Haredi town Bnei Brak, which has been an epicenter of the virus.

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