Alfei Menashe closed its gates to outsiders Thursday morning in an attempt to halt the spread of the coronavirus.
Only residents and nonresidents performing essential services, such as caring for an elderly parent or a divorced parent, are allowed to enter.
“Initially this will be very challenging, as we will be checking each person, one by one at the gate,” Alfei Menashe Council head Shy Rosenzweig wrote on Facebook in a message to his community. A sticker system would be in place soon for those authorized to leave and enter, he said.
“Those who don’t have to leave shouldn’t leave,” Rosenzweig wrote.
“I understand this is a very difficult step, and that nothing like this has happened in the last 20 years,” he said.
“I think other communities should do this as well,” Rosenzweig told The Jerusalem Post in a telephone interview.
The government intends to increase its restrictions on Israeli citizens soon, and then they will have no choice, he said.
More than 8,000 people live in the West Bank settlement, located near the Green Line in the center of the country, not far from Kfar Saba. Two people in the community have COVID-19, and some 100 are in quarantined.
Rosenzweig said he did not want the situation to get any worse. He has paid close attention to the impact of the virus on Efrat, in Judea, where a quarter of the community is in quarantine.
Some have dismissed the impact of the coronavirus, while others take it very seriously, as he does, Rosenzweig said.
“I am not closing the gates against a zombie army,” he said, adding that this is a real threat.
“We are doing this out of respect for the people who do not have it and as a wake-up call to the people who are not taking it seriously,” Rosenzweig said.
He has been startled in the last week by how many times he has seen people walking about who are not from Alfei Menashe but have come as part of their nature hike to see the flowers or to stand at its lookout point.
Then there are those who have come to stay with friends or extended family out of the belief that Alfei Menashe would be a good place to reside during the coronavirus crisis rather than their own homes.
“These are people who have no right to be here or should not be out and about according to the Health Ministry orders,” Rosenzweig said.
He said on his Facebook that he had a coronavirus test after a temporary council worker from Ashkelon tested positive for the virus.
These days, he wrote, “we are all following the numbers. Statistically [coronavirus will spread] here as well. It is just a matter of time.”
To prevent that, Rosenzweig wrote, “I need your support and responsible behavior.”