Naftali Bennett:
Ex-Israeli Defense Minister slams Health Ministry over rate of coronavirus testing

Former Defense Minister warns failure to expand coronavirus testing could lead to new lockdowns across Israel. 'No justification for this.'

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Naftali Bennett
Naftali Bennett
Oded Karni/GPO

Former Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett (Yamina) blasted the decision Sunday not to dramatically expand efforts to test for the coronavirus, lambasting the Health Ministry for what he called an ideological opposition to mass testing.

In a social media post published Sunday afternoon, Bennett said the Health Ministry’s refusal to pursue broader testing for the coronavirus could lead to a reimposition of nationwide lockdowns.

“There is absolutely no justification to impose broad lockdowns on Israel and to destroy people’s livelihoods when you have the ability to locate and isolate the [coronavirus] carriers individually.”

“Back in March I put together, for the first time in Israel, a national plan against the coronavirus. A significant portion of it I was able to put into place as Defense Minister, but the portions related to testing were held up.”

“The anti-testing ideology of officials in the Health Ministry is detrimental to Israeli’s health and their livelihoods.”

“On what basis did these officials decide that the PCR tests aren’t effective; why are these officials leading the entire government?”

Bennett went on to chastise the Israeli government, saying that political leaders had ceded policy decisions to Health Ministry staffers.

“The role of political leaders is to overcome the opposition of staffers, and to ensure that things are put into effect, including: 1) a rapid testing system that is accurate and large. Today, it is hard to get a test, and the results come after a long delay; 2) system for epidemiological research – we need to enlist thousands of students; 3) a reliable monitoring and information system, 4) hostels for recovery and isolation of carriers (that was done successfully).”

“We need to work fast. Only with this kind of a system can we avoid locking down Israel while also preventing outbreaks of the virus.”

Bennett’s comments come after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned that Israel had not yet ended its coronavirus pandemic, citing the recent bump in confirmed coronavirus infections.

"The coronavirus is not behind us,” Netanyahu said at a government meeting Sunday, calling for an increase in the number of tests administered.

"We are interested in increasing the number of tests. There is an increase relative to what we were used to. If we need to, we’ll change the policy accordingly," Netanyahu noted.