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Israel to Begin Cyber Monitoring for COVID-19 Cases
An Israeli soldier wearing a facemask enters a train on March 16, 2020 in Tel Aviv, (Amir Levy/Getty Images)

Israel to Begin Cyber Monitoring for COVID-19 Cases

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced Monday that his government would invoke emergency regulations to speed the deployment of cyber monitoring in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Civil rights groups criticized the plan to track infected people and those with whom they have been in contact. Netanyahu said in a nationally televised speech Monday night the emergency measure would be in effect for 30 days only. “Israel is a democracy and we must maintain the balance between civil rights and the public’s needs,” Netanyahu said. “These tools will very much assist us in locating the sick and stopping the virus from spreading.” Most of the country’s public sector will be put on a one-month leave, and private sector workplace attendance will be reduced to 30%. Israel has nearly 300 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus. No deaths have been reported. Schools, malls, restaurants and most places of leisure are closed, and public gatherings are severely limited. When Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, held a swearing-in ceremony on Monday, lawmakers took the oath of office in groups of three rather than all 120 parliamentarians gathering together, to comply with social distancing instructions. Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said on Monday that some hotels would be converted into isolation centers for patients.

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