Israelis reacted with anger and dismay yesterday at an imminent nationwide lockdown aimed at curbing one of the world's highest coronavirus infection rates.
The new measure was approved after cases of COVID-19 spiked in recent weeks, and amid criticism of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's handling of the virus and the economy.
CNN and the Jerusalem Post report that, starting Friday at 2pm local time, the nation will start its second general lockdown, with rigid restrictions similar to those imposed in April during Israel's first lockdown.
"I know those measures will exact a heavy price on us all", Netanyahu said in a televised address. "This is what we will do at this meeting".
But as cases have risen, protests have broken out against Mr Netanyahu and the government's handling of the pandemic.
"Schools and shopping malls will be closed but supermarkets and pharmacies will remain open", the news organization added.
Israel, which has a population of 9 million, recorded more than 4,000 new cases in a single day last week. Israelis typically hold large family gatherings and pack synagogues during the important fast of Yom Kippur later this month, settings that officials feared could trigger new outbreaks.
Israel's finance ministry said the lockdown will cost the economy, which has slipped into a recession in the wake of the pandemic, an estimated 6.5bn shekels ($1.88bn).
That prompted Israeli Housing Minister Yaakov Litzman, who represents ultra-Orthodox Jews, to resign from the government earlier Sunday.
The first lockdown was credited with having brought down what were much lower infection numbers but it wreaked havoc on the country's economy, sending unemployment skyrocketing.
While initially earning praise for the quick response to close the country's borders, Netanyahu has since been blamed for opening businesses and schools too quickly and allowing the virus to spread unchecked. "And there will also be those affected by the lockdown such as business owners and others".
"Instead of enforcing the rules in a strict way and systematically punishing those not wearing masks or who organised gatherings of hundreds of people, they are punishing us all collectively", said Mr Barak Yeivin, 56, director of the Jerusalem Conservatory of Music and Dance.