Photo Credit: Alex Kolomoisky/POOL
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (R), Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, and Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman attend the cabinet meeting, October 5, 2021.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Tuesday, at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting, declared that “in the campaign against the coronavirus, it seems, at this stage, that we have the upper hand. All indicators are showing a gradual decline in morbidity.”

“The rate of verified cases is declining,” Bennett explained. “The number of severe cases has significantly dropped from over 700 to approximately 500 this morning. Day after day, the coronavirus wards at several hospitals are in the process of closing. All of this is done without one day of lockdown and sweeping and destructive restrictions.”


According to the Health Ministry, as of Tuesday morning, there were 505 Corona patients in hospitals, out of whom 237 were critical and 198 on ventilation. The rest were 98 in medium condition and 148 light. Since the start of the pandemic, in February 2020, 7,843 have died. The rate of positive tests on Monday stood at 2.7%, out of some 120,000 tests.

The PM cautioned, however, that “despite the positive direction overall, we cannot become complacent in the face of this evasive virus. Therefore, we will continue the campaign all-out, even as we prepare for the next stage.”

He then praised his fellow ministers, saying, “I would like to say here that I am proud of this government, of being in such a good and serious group, who despite the complexity has led a consistent line on the matter, and is standing strong in the face of external noise that is constantly pressuring for lockdowns and sweeping restrictions; we have stood determined on this issue. The idea that has guided us all along has been what tools we can give to the public – be they vaccines, large-scale testing, precise directives – before we decide to take from the public freedoms, livelihoods, life, and economic security.”

On Monday, in the Knesset Plenum, former PM Benjamin Netanyahu sought to set the record straight on the achievements of the Lapid-Bennett government in fighting the coronavirus:

“Bennett, you promised that when you become prime minister you’d bring about a dramatic change in the Corona, ‘within 5 weeks.’ You were right. You brought a dramatic change, but for the worse, not for the better.”

Netanyahu continued: “We ordered the vaccines for the third cycle, we paid for them in advance, I begged Bennett and Horowitz to bring them to Israel and give them to the people. Had you acted on time, if you hadn’t wasted precious time in hesitation and lack of leadership, you would have saved many lives.”

I recommend fact-checking the above statement – it’s been argued that the PM and Health Minister ordered the third vaccine less than a week after Netanyahu had originally urged it. They certainly started administering them without waiting for the FDA’s approval.

“You were able to avoid a lockdown only because we had brought the vaccines,” Netanyahu insisted. “We left you a country with almost zero deaths per day. Then 1,392 people died under your rule, with available vaccines!” Netanyahu argued.

It should be interesting to see this debate becoming the theme of the next election, should either leader, Netanyahu and his former disciple Bennett, still play a meaningful role then. Many believe Netanyahu will still be at the Likud’s helm – fewer are betting on Bennett.

The current PM told his ministers on Tuesday that “the next great coronavirus mission is to provide for the routine in the education system and stop the large-scale quarantines as quickly as possible. Within two weeks, we would like to reach a situation in which there are no more large-scale quarantines. We are working on it.”

According to Bennett, “thirty million rapid testing kits are already en route to our country and the pilot programs are underway.”


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