Israeli students in exam years began receiving their Covid-19 vaccinations this week as the country announced that it was sealing itself off “hermetically” for two weeks.
The national vaccination drive, which is the fastest in the world, began focussing on 16 to 18-year-olds after the health ministry said more than a quarter of the country had received at least one dose.
Having the jab will let the students take exams and therefore avoid disrupting the process of going to university or starting military service.
It comes as new rules took effect banning passenger flights into Israel, as the cabinet took drastic action to stop the spread of new and more contagious coronavirus variants which British scientists say may be more deadly.
The only exemptions to the ban will be foreign cargo planes, firefighting planes and medical emergency flights, with Transport Minister Miri Regev saying people making aliyah would also need to postpone “unless it is a matter of life and death”.
Last week Israeli ministers issued a decree stating that all arrivals into Ben-Gurion Airport would need to show a negative Covid-19 test result no less than 72 hours before, but this week went much further, banning all incoming commercial flights.
“We are hermetically sealing the country,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday. “No country has done what we are about to do. We are ahead of the entire world.”
Israel was one of the first countries to initiate a national coronavirus lockdown, for which it received credit, but – by ministers’ own admission – reopened too early, causing a devastating second wave of infections and mass economic disruption.
Elsewhere this week Health Minister Yuli Edelstein was forced to field increasing questions asking why Israel was not offering the vaccine to Palestinians. He told the Andrew Marr Show that it was not Israel’s job to do so.
The United Nations and the World Health Organisation have both urged Israel to help. Edelstein said it was “not our legal obligation, but our interest to make sure Palestinians get the vaccine, that we don’t have COVID-19 spreading”.
Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.
Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.
For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.
Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.
You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.
100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...
Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.
There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.
In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.
Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish News also produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.
In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.
Voice of our community to wider society
The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.
We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.