Sever Plocker
Sever Plocker
Photo: Uri Davidowitz, Nitsan Dror
Ministers meet to consider mitigation efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus

As coronavirus flares, Israel must go into lockdown

Opinion: PM and ministers opted for populist decisions over public health, buckling under pressure from Finance Ministry and business owners, leaving no option but to lock down or face catastrophe

Sever Plocker |
Published: 07.15.20 , 14:38
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened an urgent meeting on Tuesday - including advisers and ministers - to deal with the coronavirus crisis which ended with no resolutions.
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  • The government has pushed everything aside; from the Health Ministry's and the National Security Council's (NSC) and epidemiologists' proposals to use stricter measures; while almost 2,000 Israelis are infected every day and nearly 30 more patients are hospitalized in serious condition.
    The Netanyahu-Gantz coalition prefers to push critical decisions until the very last minute, regardless of the costs for the economy and in human life.
    ישיבת ההגבלותישיבת ההגבלות
    Ministers meet to consider mitigation efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus
    (Photo: GPO)
    Israelis are therefore facing one of two options: Either live with a catastrophic pandemic or see the government impose complete lockdown on the economy for at least one week.
    Every hour counts and the decision must be quick.
    large gatherings were and continue to be a major factor in the spread of the disease. The government's and Knesset's failure to limit the number of people allowed in any given place is the ultimate ongoing health debacle.
    The political leadership capitulated in early May under pressure from business owners and the Finance Ministry, and they opened the economy under virtually no mitigation restrictions with shops, malls, schools, restaurants, and other businesses allowed to operate.
    The political echelons cracked in early May under the pressure of business owners and the Finance Ministry. As a result, they reopened the economy under virtually no restrictions on shops, malls, schools, restaurants, and others.
    עומסים בתחבורה הציבורית באלעדעומסים בתחבורה הציבורית באלעד
    Crowd gathering as outside a bus in the town of Elad
    In just two weeks, the contagion rate took a turn for the worst and has continued to increase since.
    That was when the government's second mistake began exacting its toll, as the prime minister and his cabinet chose to ignore the spike in new cases, claiming they were being dealt with individually and the overall situation remained under control.
    Some claimed this increase in confirmed cases was merely a manipulation, fear-mongering meant to deflect public attention from Netanyahu's legal troubles and personal failings.
    As prime minister, Netanyahu deserves the blame for his government's failings, but not because he overstated the dangers of the pandemic. He is to blame because despite being aware of the dangers, he chose not to clash with political partners and finance officials and do nothing to change the tide. The prime minister opted for a populist response over a responsible one.
    מבלים במסעדות ובפאביםמבלים במסעדות ובפאבים
    Crowds congregate at a Tel Aviv restaurant in early June after coronavirus lockdown was lifted
    (Photo: Moti Kimchi)
    Defense Minister Benny Gantz and others in the government share the responsibility. They too knew what the results of their inaction would be. They too are to blame for the public's exposure through irresponsible conduct that would now bring about more economic destruction and mass unemployment.
    The Knesset Coronavirus Committee that decided on Monday to allow pools and gyms to operate are also equally to blame.
    Had we not lifted restrictions on gatherings at weddings, parties, swimming pools, synagogues, and many other places; and properly enforced necessary health regulations – we would all have been in a different situation.
    Now, having passed the point of no return, the government must impose a general lockdown and not a moment too soon.
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