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Israel PM Netanyahu flouts coronavirus lockdown rules, meets son for Passover meal

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met his son despite being quarantine [AFP/Getty]

Date of publication: 10 April, 2020

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is believed to have met his son in violation of Israeli Health Ministry directives.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu violated measures brought in to stop the spread of coronavirus by having a meal with his family while he was supposed to be in quarantine.

Netanyahu
and his son Avner, who does not live with him in the PM's Jerusalem residence, were seen having a meal together in a clip that aired on Channel 12 News late on Wednesday.

The video, which was aired to mark the Passover holiday, was filmed on Tuesday at Netanyahu's residence by his own filming crew, Haaretz reported.

The prime minister entered quarantine on April 2 after known contacts tested positive for coronavirus. Netanyahu's quarantine was supposed to last until Wednesday evening.

Netanyahu and the Israeli Health Ministry have made repeated calls for Israelis to abide by the nationwide curfew over the Passover holiday, and that only people living under the same roof will be permitted to hold Passover's traditional Seder meal.

Security forces were also deployed to the streets to prevent anyone seeking to visit relatives in violation of social-distancing measures.

In an English language message to Jews across the world, Netanyahu acknowledged that this year's Passover was "strange" and "different from all other Passovers".

The pandemic "requires us to change our way of celebrating", Netanyahu said.

A source close to the prime minister told Haaretz that "Avner has stayed for hours at the Prime Minister's Residence every day over the past month and slept in his apartment which is adjacent to the residence and is within the boundaries of the secure complex".

"Avner is acting in accordance with all Health Ministry orders and stays at home," the source told the Israeli daily, refusing to say when the video was filmed.

Avner's residence in the security complex wouldn't violate Israeli directives but Netanyahu's office would not confirm when Avner moved into the compound or where exactly he is staying.

Netanyahu's oldest son Yair, who lives in the Jerusalem residence, tweeted on Thursday that Avner "is renting an apartment in the building opposite [to the prime minister's residence] and leaves the house only to go to the prime minister's residence," Haaretz reported. The tweet was quickly deleted.

"Avner and his girlfriend are strictly following Health ministry orders. Avner's partner hasn't visited her parents for the past five weeks or went to work," Netanyahu's office said in a statement.

Israel has recorded over 10,000 cases of coronavirus and 92 deaths.

Cases in Israel are concentrated heavily in the ultra-Orthodox community where health restrictions have been slow to take root, with some refusing to accept the limitations. 

Read more: Did Trump give Israel 1 million face masks despite coronavirus equipment shortages in the US?

Netanyahu last week gave the green light for soldiers to be deployed in the mostly ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak, which is considered the centre of Israel's novel coronavirus outbreak.

Israelis are currently restricted from venturing out more than 100 metres (330 feet) from their homes, except to go to the supermarket, pharmacy or hospital. 

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