Police will not stop families visiting cemeteries on Remembrance Day

Cabinet approves lockdown measures for Independence Day, curfew for Ramadan.

A woman mourns on Mount Herzl on Yom HaZikaron (photo credit: REUTERS)
A woman mourns on Mount Herzl on Yom HaZikaron
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Bereaved families who make their way to military cemeteries for Remembrance Day will not be stopped by force, Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said Wednesday.
The cabinet voted in favor of a lockdown, canceling all public transportation and banning intercity travel on Remembrance Day and Independence Day, with no additional limitations within cities, starting on Monday night and ending Wednesday night.
Police will close access routes to military cemeteries on Remembrance Day, but due to the lockdown, “we expect that people won’t come,” Bennett said, adding nevertheless that “if a bereaved father walks to the cemetery he will be allowed in. If hundreds come, it’s still different from millions coming. No one will use force against bereaved families.”
Bennett urged the bereaved families to use the days before Remembrance Day to come and visit their loved ones while keeping to regulations.
“It was a very hard decision, but every year more than 1 million people come to the cemeteries and we know that a lot of family members are elderly and there could be another explosion of coronavirus infections,” he said.
Due to the continued spread of the coronavirus, the Defense Ministry decided last month that the main ceremonies at the Western Wall plaza (on Memorial Day eve) and Mount Herzl (Memorial Day) to be held without an audience and instead to be broadcast live.
In addition, ceremonies in the 53 military cemeteries across the country will be canceled in their usual form and in their place IDF soldiers will hold a candlelight vigil as well as a salute by a commander and military cantor saying the Kaddish. The laying of wreaths and candles on graves will take place in accordance with the guidelines set by the health ministry.
According to the Defense Minister, the option to postpone Remembrance Day to the fall was discussed but it was ultimately decided against because of the continued uncertainty of the virus.
The lockdown will put a damper on the traditional Independence Day barbecues. The IAF announced earlier this week that it would not conduct its traditional flyover, replacing it with a smaller one over hospitals to salute medical crews.
The usual free concerts sponsored by municipalities around the country were canceled weeks ago, and the Independence Day torch-lighting ceremony at Mount Herzl will be filmed in advance without an audience. The International Bible Contest held on Independence Day every year will also take place without an audience, and foreign contestants will participate from Israeli embassies and consulates in their home countries.
On Tuesday April 28 at 5 p.m. until Wednesday April 29 at 8 p.m, Israeli citizens will be under lockdown and can only leave their homes for medicine and essential services. Supermarkets will be closed and people have been instructed to celebrate the holiday at home. It will be possible to leave the house for a short walk or some exercise as per the Health Ministry guidelines.   
The ministers also voted in favor of a curfew for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, during which adherents fast in daytime and feast at night. From Thursday until May 3, businesses in predominately Muslim towns will be closed from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m., except for pharmacies. Businesses will be able to make deliveries but not travel between towns.
Interior Minister Arye Deri said in the meeting that the decisions about Ramadan were made in cooperation with Arab mayors.
Two other changes to the coronavirus restrictions were announced on Wednesday. First, Israelis will now be able to leave their homes for job interviews. Also, the number of guests allowed at weddings is now 19, but guests have been advised to stay two meters apart.
The cabinet members also discussed the continuing limitations on businesses more generally, with Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon saying "the public is exploding" and working illegally anyway. He demanded that a meeting be held on the subject as soon as possible