Former defense minister Avigdor Liberman has harshly criticized Tel Aviv’s move to impose new anti-coronavirus measures in Israel’s worst-affected areas, urging people use common sense instead of following government guidance.
The Israeli government has imposed a night curfew on 40 cities with the highest coronavirus rates, backing down from its original plan to place some 30 locations under a complete lockdown after facing pressure from the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community.
Toning down the planned restrictions did not spare the government from criticism, as the partial ‘lockdown’ immediately came under fire from proponents of both harsher and lighter measures. Liberman, the leader of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, for instance, said Israeli citizens have effectively become “hostages” of the cabinet, and called its decisions “blatantly illegal.”
“The government has lost the public trust and it does not deserve it,” Liberman stated. “The coronavirus cabinet must be abolished.”
I suggest the public act in accordance with common sense and not in accordance with government guidelines.
His remarks sparked an angry reaction from government officials, who rushed to defend their decision. Health Minister Yuli Edelstein lashed out at the politician, accusing him of inciting the public against the government and “playing with fire.”
“Lieberman is acting negligently and irresponsibly, taking advantage of a fragile situation. From a health and economic point of view, it is a shame,” he said.
A similar response came from Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz, who accused certain politicians of using the coronavirus crisis for their personal political gains instead of striving for the common good.
“I hear politicians say not to adhere to decisions and I call upon them to safeguard the public and not themselves. I hear those making irresponsible declarations for political reasons,” Gantz said. “The public is looking at us, at our conflicts and our ego struggles, and they expect us to put aside our personal interests and deal with the coronavirus.”
The spread of coronavirus has accelerated in Israel recently, with the total number of confirmed cases surging past the 131,000 mark and the death toll surpassing 1,000. While the numbers are arguably small compared to the worst-affected countries, they are quite alarming for the nation with a population of 8.8 million – especially since the daily spread has reached well over 1,000 cases.
Worldwide, the number of coronavirus cases has surpassed 27 million and nearly 900,000 people have already succumbed to the disease. The US, India and Brazil remain the worst-hit nations, accounting for about a half of cases globally.