Likud lawmaker Tzachi Hanegbi, who serves as a minister without a portfolio, came under heavy scrutiny after he labeled on Friday claims that many Israelis struggle to afford food due to the coronavirus crisis as "nonsense."
Although Hangebi and other Likud senior officials were quick to apologize for the contentious remark, which came in the midst of a severe national and global economic downturn, some remain unsatisfied with this apology.
Talya Abu Hazeira, 34, is a single mother of two who runs a catering business and had to move in with her sister's family after all orders came to a screeching halt.
"There are people in a very hard situation and it's as if they're invisible," said Abu Haziera.
"I'm also in this situation and not out of choice. Two years ago, the house burned down. It got us into a difficult financial situation, but I built a catering business by myself and raised our family," she says.
"Coronavirus hit the business. We had to move in with my sister, nine people in a two-room apartment. It came to the point where we don't have bread at home."
"Tzachi Hanegbi is the one who's nonsensical," says Oren Radetlav, 39, a sound engineer and divorced father of three. Radetlav says he cannot see his kids as often he used to because he cannot afford to provide for them.
"We got the announcement in mid-March that our sector was shut down. They actually threw out us out on the street," he says.
"Our lives have stopped. Because of this whole mess, I have accumulated debt in alimony. Does anybody care that we haven't worked in four months? Now I can only see my children once a week instead of twice. I simply cannot afford to buy them food and clothes. I myself got a food donation a week ago."
Eyal Altaretz, 50, is also a sound engineer and divorced father of three who lost his income. He has found himself supported by his family and girlfriend
"Following Tzachi Hanegbi's statement, I sent him a message on behalf of all sound and stage people, who have been out of work for months and are starving," says Altaretz.
"I also wrote that I assure him that in the next election, I will do everything so that he and his friends are not in government. He then sent me a message, saying: "I will give your number to [Joint List MK Ahmad] Tibi.' What is that supposed to mean? I've been working since the age of 15 and now I've found myself begging at the age of [almost] 50."
Zvika Harpaz, 54, is a tour guide and a divorced father of four who has been on a hunger strike for over a week due to his dire financial situation.
"Are we really nonsense, now? I'm burning through my life savings so I can buy food for my four children," says Harpaz.
"Hangebi used words that show how disconnected he is from the people. I have zero income, I'm not eligible for unemployment benefits, but my expenses stayed the same. How am I supposed to feed my children and pay alimony on time?"
This isn't the first time Hangebi has made remarks that sparked public anger. During a November 2018 round of escalation in violence with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, hundreds of rockets were fired by the terrorist group at Israeli border towns.
Asked on why Israel did not respond more harshly to such acts of aggression, Hanegbi told he Army Radio: “Hamas’ response was minor – there is a difference between Tel Aviv and other communities,” implying that Tel Aviv has greater importance due to its status as Israel's economic hub.