President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday called on Israelis to unite in the fight against the coronavirus.
Rivlin apologized for the failure of the government in its handling of the crisis.
"I know that we have not done enough as a leadership to be worthy of your attention. You trusted us and we let you down."
The president said he understood the sense of confusion and anxiety felt by many and hoped first of all to extend an apology for his own transgression during the first lockdown imposed last spring, when he allowed his daughter to participate with him in the Passover meal.
"I apologized for it in the past, and I am doing it again today. My loneliness is no more painful than the loneliness that many of you – who were so careful to follow the word and the spirit of the instructions – experience," he said. Rivlin's wife Nechama passed away last year.
" You, the citizens of Israel, deserve a safety net that the country gives you. Decision-makers, government ministries, policy implementers must work for you and only for you. To save lives, to reduce infection, to rescue the economy. I understand the feeling that none of these were done satisfactorily," the president said.
Turning to politicians the president said the trust of the people is beyond value. "We must do everything to restore personal, medical and economic confidence to our fellow citizens. This is a second chance and we must take it because we will not, I fear, get a third one."
The president lamented the polarization in Israeli society. "We must refrain from blaming other parts of the society as if one sector is ‘responsible’ for spreading the disease. The State of Israel is blessed by its exceptional human diversity, and I believe with all my heart that it is an enormous advantage... We will not prevail through finger pointing and toxic accusations. Only together," he said as he told Israelis that as they share the good years they must now share the difficult ones.
"You cannot beat corona alone, but no-one can beat it without you. I believe in this people; I believe in our ability to prevail. I would like to ask you to believe in this people’s ability to prevail," Rivlin said.