Nadav Eyal
Nadav Eyal
Photo: IBA
A family member bids farewell to a dying coronavirus patient at the Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv

Israel's government must take responsiblity

Opinion: The elected officials have made every mistake in dealing with the pandemic, giving in to dirty politics, populism and incompetence; a lack of courage to make tough calls and take necessary steps now will result in more suffering in future

Nadav Eyal |
Published: 09.06.20 , 23:32
Let's be honest. If there were hundreds of people in their 30s, 40s and 50s hospitalized in serious condition with COVID-19, no one would remain silent.
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  • If 430 of them had died in just one month as a result of the virus, the country would have stopped in its tracks, and not because of government directives or some initiative of health officials.
    If that were the reality, people would never leave their homes for fear of their future and that of their children. And they would be right.
    בית חולים בתקופת הקורונהבית חולים בתקופת הקורונה
    A family member bids farewell to a dying coronavirus patient at the Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv
    (Photo: Ziv Koren)
    While it is clear that the death of a person in their 80s is not as tragic as the death of child or a teenager - as anyone who has had the misfortune to bury a young son or daughter will tell you - this vile cheapening of elderly lives has been introduced into the Israeli discourse.
    Old people are sick, and they die, some are now saying, and that the country as a whole should not be affected by the threat to them.
    There is something very wrong and immoral in brushing aside the death of old people from coronavirus. These are our parents and grandparents. These are the people who built this country.
    לוחמי הצנחנים וחטיבת הקומנדו מחלקים מנות מזון בבני ברקלוחמי הצנחנים וחטיבת הקומנדו מחלקים מנות מזון בבני ברק
    IDF troops preparing to distribute food packages to Bnei Brak residents during the lockdown in April
    (Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
    The lockdown imposed in Israel at the beginning of the pandemic was relatively short-lived and the lasting economic damage was mostly caused by the government's disastrous policies. The politicians made every possible mistake, used haphazard decision-making processes and engaged in downright embarrassing malfeasance.
    The truth is, there have been less restrictions imposed on this country in the past six months than have been implemented in Sweden. There, for example, they did not allow massive weddings - even for the families of religious icons.
    Scientists are still studying the long-term effects of the virus on the younger population and Israel would be wise to consider its danger to all age groups. If hospitals were to be overrun and exceed capacity to treat patients, young or old, the results would be the same.
    What do they want, those people who think that the coronavirus pandemic should not touch them? Are they willing to take the chance that Israel will escape the same fatality rates as New York or Italy?
    It is true that the population of Israel is on average younger than in other places and that a relatively low number of people have died so far, but shouldn't this be incentive enough to try to keep those figures down?
    מחלקת קורונה בית חולים שיבא תל השומרמחלקת קורונה בית חולים שיבא תל השומר
    A coronavirus ward at the Sheba Medical Center outside Tel Aviv, Israel's largest hospital
    (Photo: AFP)
    Self-described experts told us the pandemic would not leave China and only dozens would die even if it did. It did and the death toll climed worldwide.
    They told us Italy was an aberration and that many COVID-19 deaths would not occur elsewhere. They did. They said the summer heat would kill off the virus. It did not.
    Israel like the rest of the world is struggling with an unusually complicated crisis. It needs responsible, smart and courageous leadership.
    נכדיו של מאיר ידעי ז"לנכדיו של מאיר ידעי ז"ל
    The granddaughters of coronavirus victim Meir Yadai holding a sign saying 'Grandpa we love you' before his death last week
    (Photo: Shira Ozeri)
    It must more testing, isolate those infected, trace of the chains of contagion and impose restrictions on crowded events and gatherings. This is what science tells us will diminish the spread of the disease.
    A lack of courage to make tough calls and take necessary steps now will result in more suffering down the line.
    Israel was a light among nations during the first wave of the pandemic, but lessons were not learned, and any achievements of the early days were wiped away by the dirty politics, populism and incompetence demonstrated by our leaders. It is not too late to reverse course but time is running out.
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