Health Minister Yuli Edelstein hosted a birthday bash for his wife, attended by dozens of guests just hours before coronavirus restrictions on social gatherings went into effect, Israel Public Broadcasting Corporation (KAN) reported on Wednesday.
The government last week announced a ban on all social gatherings of more than 20 participants as part of its measures to rein in the spread of COVID-19.
At the time of the event, private gatherings of up to 50 participants were still allowed and the ban was set to come into effect the following morning.
A statement on behalf of Edelstein said the event did not violate any health regulations. "The minister's wife celebrated her birthday last Thursday at 6pm in a big and open yard with less than 50 participants in full accordance with the Health Ministry regulations [that were in place] at the time," read the statement.
"The invitation for the event specified it will be held in accordance with the Health Ministry's regulations, including temperature checks, mandatory mask-wearing, social distancing, and maintaining of personal hygiene. Also, relatives and older friends or anyone in at-risk group were asked not to come.
"Any claim that contradicts this is slander. This is a miserable attempt to damage the public's trust in the health system. We are sure the public is smarter than that," added the statement.
Edelstein and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rolled out the new restrictions at a press conference last Thursday, which included a limit of up to 20 people at closed spaces, including residential homes, and a limit of 50 people at bars, clubs, event halls, and synagogues.