Several hundred Israelis have demonstrated in Tel Aviv against the new coronavirus restrictions and vaccination as positive cases and hospitalizations rise to levels not seen in months.
The Health Ministry reported on Saturday that 2,435 new cases of Covid had been registered the previous day, the highest number since March, driven by the most contagious Delta variant.
There were 326 hospitalizations, the highest since April, although well below the January peak, when more than 2,000 people were hospitalized daily.
Israel has in recent days launched a booster shot for senior citizens, re-enforced indoor mask requirements, and reinstated “green pass” restrictions that require vaccination certificates to enter enclosed spaces such as gyms, restaurants and Hotels.
The surge in infections is a step back after Israel’s world-leading vaccine campaign reduced new Covid-19 cases from 10,000 a day to less than 100.
Protesters waved a banner on Saturday reading “No pandemic, it’s a scam.” They held posters denouncing coronavirus vaccines, with a poster linking vaccines to the Nazis.
Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz told Israeli TV Channel 12 that he intended to balance public health with livelihoods.
“The economy must remain open,” he said.
“I don’t want to impose a confinement and I will avoid a confinement at all costs. Everything is open, but we need masks and we need vaccines. “
Almost 60% of the 9.3 million people in Israel have received two injections, primarily with the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine.
But about a million Israelis still refuse to get vaccinated, even though they are eligible.
Starting Sunday, some children ages five to 11 at risk for health complications will be eligible for vaccines.