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Ultra-Orthodox MK says closure of Haredi neighborhoods is an ‘injustice’

United Torah Judaism MK Meir Porush says the lockdown imposed on virus-stricken ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods is an “injustice.”

“The imposition of a closure on ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods is an injustice. The army doesn’t have the skills to enter a city with a population it does not know — people will refuse to allow them to evacuate them,” he tells Army Radio, referring to the lockdown on Bnei Brak, where the army is slated to evacuate the elderly.

The lawmaker, who is a member of Health Minister Yaakov Litzman’s United Torah Judaism party, says the Israel Defense Forces’ involvement in the distribution of essentials to residents of the locked down city, is unnecessary.

“Do you think that they did not distribute food here before the corona? The ultra-Orthodox are laughing at the idea that soldiers need to distribute food to the elderly in the city.”

The predominantly ultra-Orthodox Bnei Brak is seen as a major epicenter of the virus, with almost as many confirmed cases as Jerusalem (which has the largest tally according to Health Ministry data), despite being one-fifth the size of the capital. Thousands more people in the city are thought to possibly have the disease but remain untested.

Ministers are slated to discuss the possibility of declaring other cities with large outbreaks restricted zones, with an emphasis on locales with large ultra-Orthodox populations.

According to Health Ministry figures, Jerusalem has the highest number of coronavirus cases with the much smaller predominantly ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak in second place.

The capital Jerusalem has 1,302 cases of coronavirus with a population of close to a million residents, but Bnei Brak has 1,214 cases with around 200,000 residents.

Authorities have tightened a closure on Bnei Brak, cutting off access between the city and the rest of the country and stepping up efforts to provide aid to residents and remove those carrying the potentially deadly pathogen.

Health Ministry deputy director-general Itamar Grotto tells the Knesset committee on the coronavirus pandemic that public transportation between ultra-Orthodox cities should be halted to stop the spread of the potentially deadly pathogen.

“We are working to stop public transportation between the ultra-Orthodox cities to prevent further infection and fatalities,” he says.

Authorities moved early Sunday to tighten a closure on the virus-stricken city of Bnei Brak, cutting off access between the city and the rest of the country and stepping up efforts to provide aid to residents and remove those carrying the virus.

At the same time, officials are reportedly considering similar measures for other cities that have seen major outbreaks of the disease, many of them with large ultra-Orthodox populations, including some neighborhoods in Jerusalem.

Header: Ultra Orthodox Jewish men wait for a bus in Bnei Brak on March 25, 2020 (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)