Bennett: Privacy is important, but living is paramount

Defense Minister explains defense establishment's involvement in coronavirus response, says he supports government's moves to contain virus.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Naftali Bennett
Naftali Bennett
Tal Oz/Defense Ministry

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett spoke to journalist Golan Yochpaz on 103FM Wednesday about the involvement of the IDF and the defense establishment in the fight against the spread of the novel coronavirus.

"We took it upon ourselves to [facilitate] the community isolation, what we call the 'hotels.' We set them up in record time. We have virtually unlimited absorptive capacity," Bennett said.

The defense minister said that the IDF, the Home Front Command and the defense establishment have been involved in the fight against the coronavirus "for two full weeks."

"Yesterday we got the first 10 patients in a Tel Aviv hotel, today we open the hotel gates in Jerusalem." He emphasized, "The IDF and the defense establishment are the strongest and largest executive body in the State of Israel and we can meet every mission."

"We will know, if need be, how to reach the thousands of patients who will be absorbed in our hotels. We have virtually unlimited absorption capacity. We understand that the graph is now moving from the moderate phase to the steep phase and we are preparing accordingly.

How will this be done in practice? "First, we are already mapping more hotels. Second, in a massive pandemic and massive need to absorb, more than one person inside the hotel room, as in a hostel. My emphasis is on full enforcement, that a person can not technically leave the hotel and on the other, it should be a very pleasant experience, as much as possible, for the guests."

Minister Bennett added: "My preference is to have as few facilities as possible, but each facility will be as large as possible because there is a medical staff." He explained that in hotels "the responsibility for cleaning the room is on the guest himself. There is no contact between the hotel's operating staff and the guests. The food is served in the kitchen, bringing it to a point 3 times a day. There is round the clock capacity for coffee and other things. The medical responsibility for guest monitoring It's on the health funds and they have representative offices in place."

In his remarks, the Minister referred to the possibility of a general closure prohibiting people from leaving their houses and this being enforced by the army and the police. He admitted that he "hopes we will not come to that."

"As we reach higher daily testing levels, for thousands and tens of thousands of tests, we can pull the carriers out and transfer them to hotels, and we can much more easily relieve the rest of the people. It has to be understood that it is like a flow in a home pool that has circulation. Time should pull out carriers and we will test people more than once.

The defense minister explained that the virus works to a certain extent "like explosives, which connect 2 substances and it creates an explosion. The biggest danger with corona is the connection between the elderly and the young, it creates a very high level of fatalities." He said that "loads of young people are currently walking around [with the disease] and we do not know how many, maybe thousands. I'm convinced there are thousands of young people who are carrying the virus. Everything is fine, nothing will happen to them, but the connection with the elderly could be deadly. We must totally avoid that."

Golan questioned whether the minister regrets refusing to meet with Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz as long as he goes along with the Joint List, given that Israeli Arabs constitute 20% of the population and a significant percentage of the medical teams currently on the front line of the war in the epidemic. "I don't want to deal with politics today, you know, I'm just up to my head with public safety. I'm not sorry for the statement, I stand behind my statements. "

The defense minister made it clear that he did not deny Arab society, but claimed that there was no connection "between this and the specific people on the Joint List and their clear support for terrorists. I will not sit down with them and I find this unthinkable." He added: "Medicine, viruses and diseases do not distinguish between Jew and Arab. I do not want to deal with this today. I run a huge system here and we will have enough time to work together."

The Prime Minister has approved the use of digital means of telephone monitoring to combat the virus. Yochpaz pointed out to the minister that MK Ayelet Shaked, his partner in Yamina, tweeted yesterday "that the regulations are far-reaching and require close supervision and transparency on telephone retention," and wondered what his position was."

In Bennett's opinion, "Because we do not have a mass testing system, unfortunately, one of the alternatives in the meantime is the use of retrospectives in post-mortem pathways. We are in an emergency. You take extreme measures to save human lives."

Minister Bennett made it clear that "we are not against civilians, we are in favor of safeguarding citizens' lives. I think the right to privacy is a very important right, but in order for you to have privacy - you have to live. If you die it does not matter if you have or do not have privacy. I am fully behind this decision. Our biggest enemy is stagnation or slow decision-making. In the meantime, we are able to stay ahead of the corona, but it is speeding behind us."

Another directive following the crisis is the defense minister's directive to hold the Memorial Day ceremonies for IDF victims and hostilities without attendees. He acknowledged that this was "a very difficult decision. Everything is done in coordination with the bereaved family organizations, the widows and IDF orphans because there is nothing more sacred than the sanctity of life. We are in contact with them and will manage it in a quiet and sensitive way, to honor the memory of the fallen."