PM Netanyahu's Statement at the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem
On Wednesday, before the Passover seder, everyone will stay at home from
18:00 until 07:00 on Thursday
(Communicated by the Prime Minister's Media Adviser)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this evening (Monday, 6 April 2020), at
the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem, issued the following statement:
"Citizens of Israel, we are in a fateful week, for the world and for the
State of Israel. It is fateful because in the battle to block the
coronavirus, these days will determine the direction – progress or retreat,
and for many people, life or death.
In New York, the epidemic is running wild. President Trump told the American
people that the worst is yet before them. In Europe, the countries struck by
corona have succeeded in slightly reducing the number of dead. This provides
optimism but the overall picture continues to be chilling. Hundreds of
funerals take place in Europe on a daily basis; people are fighting the
On behalf of all of you, I would like to send my best wishes for a rapid
recovery to our friend, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is now
fighting the disease.
This once-in-a-century wild storm is claiming victims around the world, from
all peoples without distinction, and is rocking the economies of many
Our situation is better. Thanks to the systematic steps that we have taken
and that we are taking, simply put, the trend is improving. But whoever
thinks that it is possible to end the corona crisis just like that is sorely
Our wisdom, the product of generations, teaches that there is a short way
that is long, and a long way that is short. When it comes to your health and
your lives, citizens of Israel, there can be no shortcuts. We saw what
happened one month ago with the events of Purim. Infection with the virus
spread in broad circles. I will say it here as clearly as possible: Passover
will not be Purim.
Every family will have the Passover seder on its own. Celebrate only with
the immediate family members who are now with you at home. Out of a deep
responsibility for the public welfare, we in the government will decide,
this evening, to impose a general lockdown throughout the country. From
16:00 tomorrow, remain in your towns and cities. Residents of certain
neighborhoods in Jerusalem, about which we will decide and announce, will
stay within an area that will be defined for them. The general lockdown will
continue until 07:00 Friday. But there is another restriction: On Wednesday,
before the Passover seder, everyone will stay at home from 18:00 until 07:00
on Thursday. I know that this is very onerous but there is simply no choice.
We will strictly enforce the lockdown.
I ask you to follow our instructions. I ask you to do so with
self-discipline and personal responsibility. Do so for yourselves, for your
loved ones, for the police and soldiers, who are dear to us, and who,
together with the medical teams and the MDA crews, are doing holy work. They
are angels in white, and angels in uniform. I would also like to thank the
many artists who have been volunteering from their homes and balconies to
gladden our hearts, and I say to you: Well done. We are one people.
Even as the directives are being stiffened, I am pleased to inform you that
there are positive signs on the horizon. But I would ask you at the same
time, do not become complacent. We cannot become complacent. We are moving
forward with preparations for the scenarios regarding the exit from the
crisis. This will happen only after the end of Passover and Maimouna, and
identical rules will be applied regarding the holidays of our non-Jewish
brothers and sisters. But there is a real possibility that if the positive
trends in Israel continue, we will gradually exit the lockdown after
Passover and Maimouna.
First and foremost, citizens of Israel, it depends on you. It depends on the
degree to which you adhere to the hard instructions that we are issuing to
you for the benefit of all.
The exit will be done according to the level of risk in the population. The
safest exit first while those at the greatest risk will exit last, they will
remain in quarantine as much as possible. We must protect the populations
that are in actual danger of their lives and the way to do so is to maintain
The start of the exit will breathe life into the economy. It will give hope
to the self-employed and to wage earners alike, to small businesses that are
struggling, and also to large businesses that are also struggling. As soon
as we change direction, as soon as we begin to increase economic activity,
everything will begin to change.
In the meantime, in order to get through this period, yesterday the Cabinet
decided on an emergency budget of NIS 90 billion. This is a fantastic
amount. We passed it in order to help you – the self-employed, wage earners,
those looking for work and the unemployed. This amount also includes the
holiday stipend that is in advanced stages of legislation in the Knesset. I
very much hope that the Knesset will complete this legislation forthwith so
that the stipends arrive during Passover, direct to your bank accounts. It
will come in any case.
I ask one more important thing of you, especially at this time. I ask you to
buy consumer products made in Israel: Food, agricultural products,
medicines, clothes – all made in Israel.
I think that this strategy will rebuild the Israeli economy which involves
many components, one of which is the number of tests for discovering who is
sick. The tests provide us a better assessment of morbidity and its location
among the population. We aspire to reach 10,000 tests in a few days. It was
very difficult to get there. There was a decline because suddenly parts were
lacking and you discover that someone else has taken your order. We overcame
this and will also increase the number beyond 10,000 in order to facilitate
a gradual and safe exit from the lockdown. I want you to know what this
means, 10,000. It makes us second in the world in tests per capita. I think
that Estonia, which has around 1 million citizens, is ahead of us. We, more
or less, have the same number of tests as [South] Korea, which has a
population five times greater than ours, and Britain with a population seven
times greater than ours. There are very great efforts here and it would be
worthwhile to put everything in perspective. Israel leads in very many
things and it is not for naught that it has been ranked as the safest
country in the world.
Our procurement efforts to acquire the medical equipment we need, including
the components for the corona tests, are being carried out in conditions of
strong international competition, and these efforts are unending.
Today I spoke with my friend Russian President Vladimir Putin, and we agreed
to cooperate on this issue as well. He commended me on the steps we have
taken here in the struggle against the coronavirus. Just as I was talking to
him, I told him that I am taking a break in the meeting I had with MK Benny
Gantz, and he told me 'It is very important that you unite forces for the
State of Israel.' I agree with him and I am convinced that it is possible to
reach a unity government. The effort has still not concluded and there are
still obstacles. It is not simple but I believe that with goodwill and
mutual effort, it is possible to reach it, and it is both possible and
necessary to do so forthwith.
Unity is required not only on the political level, but within Israeli
society as well. In recent days I have seen a wonderful mobilization by
young volunteers. It is simply exceptional. I have seen doctors who were
stricken with corona who, like soldiers who were wounded in battle, they
want to go back and treat patients. One sees the same thing with doctors and
nurses and it is simply amazing. We all salute them.
But I also say plainly that we have seen other phenomena. We have seen
terrible incitement against the ultra-orthodox public, both in the media and
in social networks. This is unacceptable. This is intolerable. I know that
it does not reflect the views of the great majority of the citizens of
An hour ago I spoke by telephone with Bnei Brak Mayor Avraham Rubinstein. I
offered him and the residents my support. He is in quarantine as am I. But I
told him that in contrast to the Zohar Argov song, we are not alone because
we are together. Even in quarantine we are not isolated; we are together. He
told me that he is receiving endless calls of support from citizens
throughout the country and from mayors. He told me: 'We have a wonderful
people; there is none like it in the world.'
We embrace the residents of Bnei Brak, just like all of Italy is embracing
the residents of Lombardy, and our heart is with the residents of Bnei Brak
just like all Italians are with Lombardy. But we have another link, that of
our heritage. Ours is a past that has known much suffering and so many
challenges. We have survived many crises, more than any other people in the
annals of humanity.
On Passover we commemorate the exodus from Egypt, overcoming crises,
overcoming Egypt. I grew up on the marvelous poem of Zeev Jabotinsky, the
Betar Song. In it he writes: 'Tenacity through all obstacles and enemies.'
This is what we are doing today.
In every generation we have overcome challenges and it seems that in the
past 100 years we have not seen a challenge such as this, but I know that
even though this is a global challenge being experienced by all humanity, I
know that we are getting through it together and that we are getting through
it successfully. Together we are writing a hard chapter but it is a great
chapter in the history of our people and state.
Citizens of Israel, I would like to wish all of you a happy and kosher
Passover. I want to bless all of you that we should get through this trouble
together and emerge from quarantine to freedom. Happy holiday."