Photo Credit: Koby Gideon / GPO
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Nov. 26, 2021

The Israeli government cabinet on Sunday approved a third round of antigen testing for the nation’s school children, effective Tuesday, December 7, to determine whether a child is infected with COVID-19.

The emergency ordinance mandates students from kindergarten to grade six — which had a break for Hanukkah — to present declarations signed by their parents attesting to having completed an antigen test, with negative results, in order to be allowed to enter their schools.


Schools with an exemption under the Compulsory Education Law (ie: hareidi religious and Orthodox schools) will also have to meet the requirement.

The mandate is intended to reduce or if possible, prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The latest COVID-19 variant, highly contagious Omicron, has been detected in the Jewish State as well as in some 40 countries, including the United States, where it now has been found in at least 13 states.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in his opening remarks at the cabinet meeting on Sunday that winter is “extremely severe” in the United States and Europe, with morbidity peaking. “There are lockdowns and restrictions across the world,” he noted.

“Here it is warm, open and safe. The basic reproduction number has fallen below one again.

“Friends, this does not happen on its own,” he said. “The fact that Israel is an island of functionality and health, of an open economy and a normal life, is the result of our tight management. Therefore, I suggest that we not underestimate Omicron.

“Just this morning I received a report that 100 people were infected with Omicron at a party in Norway. It is not just in South Africa. We need to be circumspect. This is a strain that we do not yet know enough about although we do know with a high level of certainty that it is very contagious. We are still in the foggy period that we ourselves have defined, and we are still studying.”

Israeli health officials are reassessing the situation on a daily basis, he said, using the available data at that moment, regarding measures to ease restrictions or tighten them up. “Everything is according to the data,” he said.

“Some people are saying, ‘But the situation is so good in the country, why are you being so stringent?’ The reason that the situation is good in the country is that we are taking quick and precise action,” Bennett added.

“We know to relax the restrictions when necessary and when to tighten them. In the current uncertainty, this is exactly the step to take. It is better to be careful at the outset than to regret it later.”


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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, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.