Israeli police step up enforcement among ultra-Orthodox Jews

Israeli police are cracking down on gatherings in the country’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods.

In recent days, they’ve used a drone, helicopter and stun grenades to prevent the spread of the coronavirus within the community.

They’ve been met with occasional resistance and verbal abuse from the residents who have long chafed against the state -- with some youths even shouting ‘Nazis’ at police from their balconies.

Israeli officials say the ultra-Orthodox community are especially prone to contagion as their districts tend to be poor and congested. They are accustomed to holding prayers three times a day with often large congregations.

But residents like Menahem say they are trying


"It's very hard for us because normally here in this city we are always together and we like the community and (this past) couple of these days because we have to be careful we are trying to do the best even if it's much more harder than other places."

Israel has reported over 4,000 coronavirus cases and 15 deaths - but the Health Ministry warned that the number of fatalities could eventually rise to the thousands.

Stricter measures were put in place last week, instructing residents to stay within 100 meters of their homes.

This includes the country’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu -- for now at least.

The 70-year-old leader tested negative for COVID-19 on Monday after his aide was confirmed to be carrying the virus - but a spokesman says he will remain in isolation as a precaution.