בדיקות קורונה מהירות בבית ספר אליאנס תל אביב
Coronavirus testing center set up by Tel Aviv Municipality
Photo: Motti Kimchi
Prime Minister Netanyahu and his youngest son, Avner who was present at the Passover Seder in violation of health directives

Let local government take the lead in the fight against coronavirus

Opinion: Local leaders know their residents and should be the ones deciding what's open and what's not during the pandemic; but the government, in its efforts to hold on to the power, starves them from funds and weakens them

Amihai Attali |
Published: 12.29.20 , 23:46
Israel's leaders did their best to lose the public's trust over the past year.
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  • They did so when they violated the very health directives they themselves imposed on the population in order to fight the spread of coronavirus.
    Prime Minister Netanyahu and his youngest son, Avner who was present at the Passover Seder in violation of health directivesPrime Minister Netanyahu and his youngest son, Avner who was present at the Passover Seder in violation of health directives
    Prime Minister Netanyahu and his youngest son, Avner who was present at the Passover Seder in violation of health directives
    (Photo: Screenshot)
    They did so when they bowed to pressure from various interest groups and eased those same directives, rendering them less effective.
    And they did so when they allowed entire sectors of the population to ignore those guidelines altogether without any consequences.
    חתונה המונית במודיעין עיליתחתונה המונית במודיעין עילית
    Ultra Orthodox men celebrate during a wedding held in violation of health directives in Modi'in Illit in November
    (Photo: Itamar Kirshenboim)
    While the government was operating according to political interests alone, heads of local authorities emerged as efficient and responsible leaders over the past year.
    They stepped into the vacuum left by the government and despite a shortage of funds, had positioned themselves on the front lines in the battle against the virus.
    The prime minister and his cabinet, meanwhile, took active steps to withhold the needed resources from local leaders in the interest of holding on to power. In this case power is money. By withholding funds from municipalities, it makes them weak and dependent on the government.
    בדיקות קורונה מהירות בבית ספר אליאנס תל אביבבדיקות קורונה מהירות בבית ספר אליאנס תל אביב
    Coronavirus testing center set up by Tel Aviv Municipality
    (Photo: Motti Kimchi)
    Local authorities have always been strapped for cash and struggled to pay their bills, even though Israelis pay extremely high taxes.
    Now that the country has been thrust for into its third national lockdown, let the local government finally take the lead in the fight against COVID-19.
    After all, they are the ones who operate our local education and welfare systems for us on a daily basis, the infrastructures we use, such as water, electricity and communications.
    Therefore, they should be given the means to provide the services their residents rely on. They should have the means to assist residents in need, maintain infrastructure and meet both municipal and personal demands.
    ליבי סגל תלמידת כיתה ו' ואחותה בר תלמידת כיתה זליבי סגל תלמידת כיתה ו' ואחותה בר תלמידת כיתה ז
    Two sisters study over zoom when schools are closed because of coronavirus spread
    (Yair Sagi)
    In addition, they alone should decide whether schools should open or close and if shops should be allowed to operate in their respective municipality.
    Local authorities have an intimate knowledge of infection numbers among the public under their care and can intervene early enough to prevent a surge in new cases, in a way that the government has been unable to do.
    They are better motivated to respond to the needs of their constituents. Afterall they are under the constant gaze of their residents and any neglect or mismanagement is immediately called out.
    Mayors meet with their residents on a daily basis, they know their problems and how best they might be solved. They also know how best they can be protected.
    לעומת הסגר השני, הפעם אין ברחובות דרך בגין- ארלוזרוב בתל אביב מחסוםלעומת הסגר השני, הפעם אין ברחובות דרך בגין- ארלוזרוב בתל אביב מחסום
    Tel Aviv during third lockdown
    (Photo: Motti Kimchi )
    After the government's failure in its response to the pandemic, some local leaders even set up their own coronavirus testing centers. They stepped in to care for the elderly residents and those who were neglected before and during the crisis by the government, which should have served them better.
    Israel should provide municipalities and local councils with the resources to care for their populations and serve them in the standard that they demand and deserve.

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