Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Israel's Arab sector on Wednesday night of “insufficient adherence” to the guidelines set forth by the Health Ministry to stop the spread of the potentially lethal coronavirus.
“There is a problem in the general public, and there is a problem especially in the small villages,” the prime minister said in a meeting with senior Arab doctors at his office in Jerusalem. “We need to fix this right away.”
He described the novel coronavirus as “an epidemic that hurts everyone.""It does not distinguish between Jews, Arabs, Circassians, Bedouins and Christians; it simply does not distinguish between religions and sectors – and therefore, all citizens of the state are required to take full responsibility and strict discipline," Netanyahu said.
The prime minister reminded the doctors that the country can put any restrictions and recommendations in place that it wants, but they “will not help if there is no public response."
“If some of the public in one place or another does not obey these instructions, it simply causes it to first of all infect his dear and beloved family members and also the general public,” Netanyahu said. “I ask for the cooperation of all the Arab-speaking public, of the Arab citizens of Israel. I ask you, for your sake and for the common future of us all: Please follow the instructions."The meeting took place on the same day that Jerusalem mayor Moshe Lion announced that the city was preparing for a near-total shutdown because some citizens were not adhering to the recommendation to stay inside that was made by the Health Ministry. Lion also reminded the public that the 11 crossings between the Palestinian Authority and Jerusalem were closing on Wednesday. He stressed that Kafr Aqab and Shuafat are considered part of east Jerusalem and are therefore under the authority of the municipality. He said that east Jerusalem residents, but not Palestinians living in Areas A and B, can enter the city through Qalandiya crossing, located in Kafr Aqab.As of 2016, Jerusalem was home to around 332,400 Arabs. In Israel as of the 2019 census, there were 1,890,000 Arab people - about 20% of the total population.Tzvi Joffre contributed to this report.