Health officials on Tuesday demanded urgent action and sounded alarm over the worrying rise of coronavirus infections that has put COVID-19 wards across the country on the brink of collapse.
Health Minister Yuli Edelstein and the ministry's public health chief, Dr. Sharon Elrai-Price, staged an urgent press briefing after Israel reported over 8,000 new daily virus cases - highest since September - despite the tough restrictions currently in place.
Edelstein demanded for a full lockdown to be ordered when the cabinet meets later in the day to discuss the tightening of the nationwide closure, imposed a week ago.
"We need to reach a full lockdown, except for essential work, with a shuttered education system and zero gatherings," he said during a press briefing. "Not doing anything today will result in hundreds more dead and thousands more seriously ill."
He said it would be detrimental to Israel's vaccination campaign not to impose a full lockdown, since those who had already been vaccinated with the first shot might get still infected as they require the second jab to develop immunity.
"Some of the [new] virus patients are elderly, who have already received the first shot of the vaccine," he said. "They were meters away from being saved. Today there are outbreaks in nursing homes, where the vaccinations have also been carried out. The ball is in the hands of the government," he added.
"When was the last time the public itself was asking us to close everything? The heads of local authorities and people on the street say to us, 'stop, impose a lockdown."
Edelstein also blasted young people who turn up to vaccination centers to get the shot without appointment. "There were criminals who tried to sneak in at the expense of the elderly and the sick. The phenomenon is unfortunate. There are no excess vaccines when there are only 2,000 [in each vaccination center]."
Elrai-Price said the majority of this country at the moment lives in either "red" or "orange" cities and communities.
"Even if we stop the spread, we know that the numbers will continue to rise. We are breaking the record for predicted number of serious patients. The number of serious patients is rising and creating a huge burden on hospitals."