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The New Arab

Netanyahu plans to deploy army of children to disinfect Israel from coronavirus

Israel has been enacting stringent containment measures for coronavirus [Getty]

Date of publication: 8 March, 2020

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In a bizarre announcement, Netanyahu announced plans to deploy school children and youth groups to disinfect public spaces with bleach in a bid to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a string of measures to deal with the spread of coronavirus in the Jewish state, including in the event that schools are closed, deploying children to disinfect public areas with bleach.

“It must be understood that the pandemic is not afflicting children or young people, thank G-d,” Netanyahu told a press conference on the COVID-19 outbreak, using the Jewish word for God.

“We must disinfect public installations. This virus is sensitive to bleach and we must act in an orderly way to disinfect railway stations, bus stations, etc,” he said. 

“To this end, over the vacation period, which may be extended, I will mobilise young people, both in schools and in youth movements, in a very meticulous way, to help with the disinfection. I will also ask the IDF to take care of certain installations,” he added.

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The premier’s comments attracted backlash from many who pointed out that young people can still contract the virus and spread it further, including to vulnerable individuals.

Israel, which so far has 21 confirmed cases, has imposed stringent measures on many European nations in a bid to contain the virus.

Local media reported that the government was likely to soon begin placing restrictions on flights arriving from some parts of the United States.

The government has also scrapped joint military exercises with the United States in Germany.

The Israeli army announced that from noon Friday all forces would be prevented from leaving Israel, whether "on personal trips or on duty".

In Bethlehem, a Palestinian city about 10 kilometres (six miles) south of Jerusalem, authorities closed the Church of the Nativity, built on the site where Christians believe Jesus was born.

The Palestinian territories' first COVID-19 cases were confirmed in a Bethlehem hotel Thursday, after a group of Greek tourists visited.

Israeli authorities have banned tourist buses and visitors from Bethlehem from entering Jerusalem.

At Jerusalem's Western Wall, the holiest place where Jews can pray, new restrictions mean that only 5,000 people can visit at a time.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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