Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit issued a statement rebuking residents of yishuvim and other villages who have taken the law into their own hands in preventing entry to their areas due to the coronavirus situation, on Sunday.
Mandelblit said that only the Israel Police have the authority to restrict movement in and out of specific areas.
The attorney-general said he issued the statement after complaints had been filed to the police over the situation and the police had asked for guidance.
Dozens of towns and kibbutzim throughout Israel have decided to close their gates to anyone who isn't a resident in response to the coronavirus outbreak, according to Calcalist.
Volunteers in each place check everyone who tries to enter to see if they are a resident or are even allowed to travel according to government directives.
The number of towns that closed their gates rose last week. A source told Calcalist that hikers were showing up in towns even with the restrictions on movement and the towns began to worry about infections, as many of them have older populations.
Relevant regional council heads were contacted to confirm that it was permitted to close the gates, according to another source.
The Upper Galillee Regional Council advised towns under its authority to close their gates to anyone who isn't a resident or doesn't work in the towns. When restaurant or grocery deliveries are ordered by residents, the deliveries are left at the gate of the town and are picked up by the resident.
Giora Zaltz, the head of the regional council, explained to Calcalist that they can't absolutely forbid entry, but they explain the situation and people understand. "We don't stand with a weapon and threaten anyone," said Zaltz. "Of course if you need to get to a friend, to help or something like this, then you call them, and they allow you to enter. The idea is to prevent entry to people that don't have a reason to enter or hikers, who know we see less here because of the tightened restrictions."
Zaltz added that he believes that many towns and cities would do the same if they could, and that kibbutzim and small towns have the advantage of being surrounded by gates and fences.
The West Bank settlement of Alfei Menashe closed its gates to outsiders two weeks ago in an attempt to halt the spread of the coronavirus.
“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,” wrote Alfei Menashe Council head Shy Rosenzweig on Facebook.
He had been startled 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.
Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.