Photo Credit: Avshalom Sassoni / Flash 90
A smattering of passengers in the arrivals hall at Ben Gurion International Airport, March 8, 2021.

“The only thing that can end our vaccination campaign and the miracle that is happening before our eyes is the entry of variants from abroad,” Health Minister Yuli Edelstein (Likud) told a cabinet meeting on Sunday.

The ministers debated the question of whether entry from additional countries should be allowed, and increasing the number of allowed arrivals to 3,000 per day.


Minister of Immigration and Absorption Pnina Tamano-Shata (Blue&White) said at the hearing that Israel’s sky should be opened.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit said that “there is great urgency” to reach agreements on closing the sky, ahead of a High Court session on the issue. The AG asked what was the government’s position on increasing the number of arrivals, saying, “I need an affidavit from the Health Ministry and a spokesperson who will explain the ministry’s position.”

Mandelblit said that following the IDF Military Intelligence report on the pandemic in Israel, “I was hoping it would be possible to increase the number arrivals to 4,000 based on testing. With that, I can go to court. Today there will be a hearing in the High Court, there is no time.”

Edelstein replied: “I hear here the voices saying, open the sky, and open the gates to enter the country, and noted, “Had we listened to these voices, we would not have had about 6,000 dead, but about 16,000.”

He said, “The only thing that can spoil us all the improvement in morbidity is the opening of Ben Gurion Airport. It’s not another 10 patrons in a restaurant. The ministry’s position will be presented to the High Court – up to 3,000 arrivals a day.”

Military Intelligence Deputy Chief of Staff Eitan Ben-David said: “Demand is not high. It did not reach 3,000 and the planes were half empty. We ran a survey for the Foreign Ministry and were told that there are only a few inquiries from people who want to come.”

The AG submit to the High Court the government’s response to a petition filed by the Movement for Quality of Government regarding the limits on the number of individuals entering Israel.

Meanwhile, under the instructions of Transport Minister Miri Regev (Likud) and in consultation with the Ministers of Health and Foreign Affairs, ahead of the March 23 election, the Transport Ministry announced ton Sunday that it will allow flights from new destinations to Israel this week, including Madrid, Amsterdam, Larnaca, and Addis Ababa, to enable Israelis to return home to vote.

The Health Ministry reported 773 new verified patients Saturday, based on 27,026 test results. As of Sunday morning, there are 644 Corona patients in serious condition, out of whom 191 are on respirators. 5,992 have died since the outbreak of the pandemic.

5,129,901 have received the first dose of the vaccine, 4,134,860 the second.

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