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Litzman: Stop blaming ultra-Orthodox for virus spread

Health Minister Yaakov Litzman urges Israelis to stop attributing the spread of the pandemic to members of his ultra-Orthodox community.

“The statements that Haredim are seemingly are infecting [the broader population] with the virus are false and dangerous,”says Litzman, who heads the Haredi United Torah Judaism party.

“The Haredi public is heeding the instructions and meticulously obeying the safety rules. In every community there is a small minority that does not observe the rules sufficiently and for this, enforcement by the authorities is required. But you cannot generalize and, heaven forbid, turn the coronavirus crisis into a clash between the communities in Israel.”

“Residents of Bnei Brak and Haredi areas are not supposed to receive discriminatory and humiliating treatment,” he adds. “I call on the mayor of Ramat Gan to avoid steps that increase friction and contention between the communities.”

He is referring to gates put up by Ramat Gan to separate it from adjacent Bnei Brak, which the state has ordered pulled down. Bnei Brak, an ultra-Orthodox suburb of Tel Aviv, is under lockdown amid a serious outbreak in the city.

Litzman himself is sick with the coronavirus. TV reports have accused him of flouting his own Health Ministry rules and attending illegal prayer gatherings, which he denies.

A day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized “wild incitement” and President Reuven Rivlin warned of “fake accusations” against Israel’s ultra-Orthodox community amid the coronavirus outbreak, Yisrael Beytenu chair Avigdor Liberman slammed the Haredi political leadership, accusing it of “endangering the health of the public.”

“I say again, I have no claims against the ultra-Orthodox community, but the leaders who behave irresponsibly and endanger not only the health of the ultra-Orthodox public but the health of all citizens of the State of Israel,” Liberman declared.