Isolated ultra-Orthodox Jews at epicentre of Jerusalem’s Covid-19 outbreak
Jerusalem’s isolated ultra-Orthodox community is at the epicentre of the city’s coronavirus outbreak, but the traditional Jewish laws its population abides by means that the government’s confinement measures have had little effect so far. The Israeli police officers who try to enforce the rules are often verbally and physically assaulted. FRANCE 24 reports.
Barriers, ribbons, and in some areas even padlocks: Jerusalem’s Mea Shearim district has been cordoned off as a “red zone”, or a hotspot, for the city’s coronavirus outbreak.
The neighbourhood is an enclave of sorts, where Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox community lives by its own traditional rules. Here, people listen to their rabbis rather than the state of Israel. And few are seen wearing facemasks or gloves to protect themselves against the coronavirus. The rate of infection in the area is currently up to eight times higher than in the rest of Israel.
“People inside the communities are very isolated, they don't have televisions, or iPhones. So what is happening is that our unit are speaking to the rabbis and making sure that the rabbis get the message through to the community,” Israeli police officer Micky Rosenfeld says.
But entering the district is a challenge in itself. Police officers are not welcomed by inhabitants, and they often face both verbal and physical abuse.
“[If] they recognise someone in blue uniform, they could possibly stone the car,” Rosenfeld explains as he drives into the neighbourhood.
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