İrem UZUN -TDO- In violation of the national lockdown regulations aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus, thousands of people attended a funeral procession Sunday in Jerusalem for a prominent ultra-Orthodox rabbi who died overnight after battling COVID-19 for several months. The turnout was estimated at some 10,000.
Rabbi Meshulam Dovid Soloveitchik, 99, died on Sunday following months of ill health after contracting COVID-19. The country is currently under a third national lockdown, but police did not intervene to disperse the crowd. Police later said that if they had tried to prevent the mass event, there would have been bloodshed. The scenes sparked backlash from deputy Prime Minister Benny Gantz ahead of a vote to extend lockdown rules. "Millions of families and children are locked in their homes and abide by the rules while thousands of Haredim crowd the funeral, most of them even without masks," Gantz tweeted describing it as evidence of "unequal enforcement".
Israel, a country of about 9 million, has recorded more than 640,000 coronavirus cases, including over 4,700 deaths. While the Jewish state continues to register several thousand new cases a day, it is also conducting a vaccination campaign widely regarded as the world's fastest per capita, with more than 3 million people having received the first of two required jabs of the Pfizer vaccine.