Photo Credit: Haim Zach (GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets senior Arab physicians, March 18, 2020.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday night met in his Jerusalem office with senior physicians from the Arab sector in Israel to discuss efforts to increase awareness in their sector about the spread of the coronavirus.

Haifa District Deputy Physician Dr. Suniyeh Habib, Clalit HMO adviser to the Director General on Arab Sector Affairs Dr. Zahi Said, Ziv Medical Center Deputy Director Dr. Anan Abbasi and National Security Council head Meir Ben-Shabbat attended the meeting.

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Prime Minister Netanyahu told his guests: “First, I want to thank Dr. Said, Dr. Habib and Dr. Abbasi for their efforts to pass the Health Ministry directives to the Arabic-speaking public in Israel. This is incredibly important. Unfortunately, as I see it, there is not enough observance in the Arab sector of the directives. There is also a problem with the general public, and there is a special problem in the smaller villages, as I understand it, and we are going to fix this immediately.

“This corona is no longer a disease. It is an epidemic that hits everybody. It does not discriminate between Arabs, Circassians, Bedouin and Christians. It simply does not discriminate between religions and sectors; therefore, all of the country’s citizens must be fully responsible and show strict discipline. We can take all the steps that we have and it will not help if the general public does not respond accordingly. If part of the public in any given place is not following these instructions, it is simply bringing about a situation in which it could lead to the infection of dear and beloved family members and the public at large. There is mutual responsibility here.

“The public must implement the directives especially regarding personal conduct and maintaining distance and hygiene at all times, in order to ensure that we are in control of the epidemic. We have the possibility of doing so, but I ask for the cooperation of the entire Arabic-speaking sector, of Israel’s Arab citizens. I ask you, for yourselves and for our common future, please strictly follow the instructions.

“In Israel, we are ahead of most of the whole world. We managed to keep it from spreading, but without the cooperation of everyone who hears us now, from large to small, from kabir (‘strong’) to zair (‘tiny’) … many people will die, and these deaths can be prevented with your help.”

The physicians updated the Prime Minister about what is happening in the Arab sector regarding the war on the coronavirus, and emphasized, including in Arabic, for the benefit of Israeli Arab citizens, that the Arab public in Israel must strictly adhere to the Ministry of Health guidelines.

Dr. Said commended the Prime Minister on his leadership and the steps he is taking to curb the spread of the virus.

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