Twenty organizations from within the tourism, environment, education, health and sports arenas wrote a letter to the Israeli prime minister and the government’s ministers requesting they open up nature and green spaces “for the mental and physical health of Israeli citizens… We, the undersigned, are calling on you to promote immediate steps that allow individuals to go out into nature and open spaces, to hike, walk and exercise within defined limits”, the letter read. “Staying in nature and the open air is not a problem, but part of the solution”.

The letter explained the obvious health benefits of fresh air and exercise, including reducing blood pressure and strengthening the immune system.

The Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) said in the letter to the prime minister that the health benefits of spending time outdoors in nature or in parks was proven and took on additional importance after the long period during which Israelis have been in lockdown at home because of the coronavirus.

“Research proves that spending time in green spaces contributes to a reduction in depression, a drop in blood pressure and speedier recovery from illness”, the statement added.

National parks and nature reserves have been closed for around a month and a half, and at present all Israelis, other than those deemed essential workers, are restricted to within 500 meters of their homes.