תמונה של ישראל זיו
Israel Ziv
Photo: Avigail Uzi
Police place a roadblock across a main Tel Aviv road during the closure that began Friday

Israel's leaders must pull themselves together or resign

Opinion: Imposing a second closure is an admittance of failure on part of the politicians who have thus far torpedoed any practical suggestion from our coronavirus czar; as such, the people must demand a practical and impartial solution or a new government

Israel Ziv |
Published: 09.19.20 , 23:28
The crisis caused by the coronavirus and the resultant economic calamity were the stated reason for the creation of the current unity government, - despite the complexities it entailed.
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  • The decision of this same unity government to impose a second general closure - which will surely serve to aggravate the current economic and social crises - is an explicit admission of failure in effectively managing the battle against the contagion.
    מחסומים בצומת ארלוזרוב בתל אביב לקראת הסגרמחסומים בצומת ארלוזרוב בתל אביב לקראת הסגר
    Police place a roadblock across a main Tel Aviv road during the closure that began Friday
    (Photo: Moti Kimchi)
    The inevitable conclusion is that the government has failed in the mission for which it was elected, and thus must leave office.
    The government's failure in managing the crisis was written on the wall in huge glowing letters.
    From the moment the government was sworn in and for no less than the two and half months after, all its members did was bicker over who would manage the crisis and what would be the best course of action.
    הפגנה בתל אביבהפגנה בתל אביב
    Israelis protest in Tel Aviv over the government's handling of the pandemic
    (Photo: AFP)
    And then, after they finally came to a decision, they chose the wrong person to oversee the crisis and the wrong course of action.
    It is enough to look at the Hebrew term “coronavirus project manager” to understand why the government went off course. The term implies the crisis is only transient and thus requires a project manager until it is over.
    When Israel finds itself in the midst of a war, the IDF Chief of Staff does not recruit a “war project manager.” Instead, he utilizes the staff and soldiers and the capabilities under his command.
    פרופ' גמזו לקראת הסגר הלילי: "היקף התחלואה גדול גם בערים ירוקות"פרופ' גמזו לקראת הסגר הלילי: "היקף התחלואה גדול גם בערים ירוקות"
    Coronavirus czar Prof. Ronni Gamzu
    (Photo: GPO)
    Can the coronavirus czar, talented as he may be, truly hope to win this intricate, multidimensional campaign with no real power or authority?
    With all due respect to Prof. Ronni Gamzu, who is truly a bright and courageous person, this crisis should not be managed by a man of science who holds no true statutory power, has no staff and no authority.
    Due to his lack of real power, a large number of the suggestions and ideas put together by Gamzu and his appointed advisers are systematically neutered and then thrown out by the government, which acts as monitor and judge while claiming zero accountability.
    Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuPrime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
    (Photo: Reuters)
    Furthermore, neither Gamzu nor Health Ministry Director-General Hezi Levy have the knowledge or the experience to tackle a national crisis on the scale of the pandemic.
    This had led to the government repeating the same mistakes made during the first wave of the coronavirus: Unnecessary panic, an unjustified general closure and a consequent paralyzing recession.
    A general lockdown is akin to prescribing an aspirin for the a pandemic that will surely rear its head again, and perhaps deliver a fatal blow to the economy and to entire sections of the population.
    Things could have been different.
    The unity government should have declared a state of emergency as soon as it was sworn in and managed the crisis itself. Not by bringing in proxies like committees and czars as it has so far - but by making use of inter-ministerial functions and development programs.
    At the top should have stood someone with real authority. Maybe the prime minister, his deputy or another high-ranking minister.
    The decisions made by this hypothetical inter-ministerial taskforce could have been accepted on the spot, without the need for endless discussions.
    Israel's leaders should have transcended politics and given maximum executive powers to the various bodies and local authorities that could have really managed the crisis in a focused and pinpoint manner.
    מעבדות לבדיקת קורונה של צה"למעבדות לבדיקת קורונה של צה"ל
    Testing for coronavirus at an IDF lab in Tel Aviv
    (Photo: AFP)
    The coronavirus headquarters operated by the IDF Home Front Command should have been operational already, even if only partially.
    Necessary technological advancements such as a rapid testing system, whose existence could have made a real change, should have been systematically managed by the Science and Technology Ministry, in collaboration with the Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure.
    A national information headquarters tasked with restoring public confidence should have also long begun to operate.
    The current closure will not change the harsh reality prevalent in Israel, instead it will only make the situation worse.
    Public trust is eroded, and rightly so.
    We the citizens of Israel must therefore demand that the government pull itself together and take advantage of this period before winter to reorganize the campaign effectively and efficiently.
    And if it cannot do so, it must resign.
    Gen (ret.) Israel Ziv is a former head of the IDF Operations Directorate
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