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Fear of Haredi revolt said to lead ministers to okay school openings in hotspots

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Ministers voted Friday to allow the reopening of daycares, preschools and kindergartens in virus hotspots — all of which are ultra-Orthodox-majority areas — after officials reportedly warned that failure to do so could cause a “civil revolt.”

Roni Numa, a former general who has led and assisted official efforts to deal with the coronavirus crisis in the ultra-Orthodox community, and Acting Police Chief Motti Cohen, warned ministers Friday that it would not be possible to enforce the school closures and predicted riots and wider unrest if schools were ordered closed, Channel 12 reported.

Numa said that the response to lockdown orders in so-called “red” areas with high infection rates would be determined by decisions about the early childhood education system, the report said.

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The government on Thursday decided to lift some restrictions around the country after a month-long lockdown successfully drove down infection rates. Ministers voted Friday to keep virus hotspots under lockdown at least until Wednesday, but allowed the reopening of daycares, preschools and kindergartens in those communities.

“It would help a lot if you give them [the reopening of schools] for ages 0-6,” Numa told ministers during the so-called coronavirus cabinet’s meeting, the TV report said.

Walla news reported that Numa referred to ultra-Orthodox red zones as a “dangerous pressure cooker.” A police official said the areas were “boiling” and there would likely be riots if schools were not allowed to open, the report said.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz said, “We expect uniform enforcement of directives in every part of the country,” and Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said, “We need to enforce and make sure [elementary schools] do not open,” Walla reported.........

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