Israel was celebrating a return to normal life in its battle with COVID-19.
After a rapid vaccination drive that had driven down coronavirus infections and deaths, Israelis had stopped wearing face masks and abandoned all social-distancing rules.
Then came the more infectious Delta variant, and a surge in cases that has forced Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to reimpose some COVID-19 restrictions and rethink strategy.
Under what he calls a policy of “soft suppression,” the government wants Israelis to learn to live with the virus — involving the fewest possible restrictions and avoiding a fourth national lockdown that could do further harm to the economy.
As most Israelis in risk groups have now been vaccinated against COVID-19, Bennett is counting on fewer people than before falling seriously ill when infections rise.