Photo Credit: Amos Ben Gershom / GPO
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks on Health Ministry directives at the PMO

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took to the podium Tuesday night to warn Israelis that the Health Ministry instructions to “stay home” were not a simple advisory, but rather a mandatory, life-saving regulation implemented at this point for the sake of everyone’s health, among an intensified list of three more steps being added to the effort to get the pandemic under control in the Jewish State.

“We started today to use the digital technology that detects those who come into contact with coronavirus patients,” Netanyahu said. “We will send these people into quarantine. These will be large numbers.

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“Isolation is not a recommendation: it is MANDATORY, and we will enforce it without compromise.”

The prime minister also said Israel would dramatically increase the number of those to be tested for the virus, making Israel’s effort the largest per capita in the world, between 3,000 and 5,000 tests per day – comparable to that of South Korea, where testing takes place at a range of around 15,000 people per day for a population about five times larger than that of Israel.

Israeli hospitals are also upgrading their capabilities to be able to handle more coronavirus patients, he said; the state has just purchased another 1,000 respirators in order to be able to treat those who fall victim to COVID-19, which at its worst leads to acute respiratory distress syndrome, and can cause severe pulmonary damage. Magen David Adom will also begin to offer “drive-in” testing as of Wednesday, the prime minister added.

“I am happy to report that up to now, not a single Israeli has died,” Netanyahu said. “But sadly, this will not be the situation moving forward.

“I ask you for discipline, and to take responsibility.

“None of these steps will be of any help if you don’t take personal responsibility for your own actions,” the prime minister said, his frustration obvious.

“I can say, sadly, there are many of you who still do not understand the level of danger facing us.

“This is not a children’s game. This is a matter of life and death.

“Love means keeping your distance. Keep the two-meter rule, maintain a distance between yourself and others. Even between family members,” he said.

“If you don’t have to go to work, don’t. leave. the. house. We are just at the beginning of this fight . . . the nightmare is still ahead of us,” the prime minister said.

Health Ministry director-general Moshe Bar Siman Tov also took to the podium for a few brief remarks to reinforce the prime minister’s message.

“What is happening in Italy and in Spain and our ability to prevent that from happening here depends to a great extend upon your own behavior and your ability to comply with the instructions issued by the Health Ministry,” he said.

“This is not a game.

“We want you to stay home. Our ability to give assistance to those who are ill depends on what you do.

“This is not the time to visit Saba (grandfather) and Safta (grandmother),” he admonished. “We might not know what we have, and we might get them sick.

“This is our way of keeping them, and you, safe and healthy.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.