Minister Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud) on Saturday apologized for saying that "the notion that people have nothing to eat is nonsense."
The statement, which Hanegbi made during a Friday interview with Channel 12, caused an uproar on social media.
"I apologize for my sharp statement, which I said during an interview yesterday," Hanegbi tweeted. "I meant to tell my interviewers that their extreme and gross criticism of the government creates fear amongst the public, instead of hope. I meant to say that the government that I am part of works day and night to put Israel back on the track of a healthy and flourishing economy."
"Unfortunately, in the heat of the discussion, I expressed myself in a way which hurt the public's feelings. This was not my intention, and I take my statement back. Coronavirus is a global plague, and it is costing us truly and heavily, including in the social, health, and economic spheres. I live amongst my people, and I am aware of the entire public's great distress, as we fight this war of survival.
"I promise that we will continue to act out with responsibility and sensitivity, in order to bring the economy back on track, and to compensate as much as possible all of the many who fear, justly, for their future and their families' future."
Earlier, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu slammed Hanegbi, saying, "I am distressed by statements which imply the coronavirus distress is not real. Just like everywhere else in the world, coronavirus in Israel is taking a heavy price in lives, health, and livelihood. The distress is real, and I am working around the clock to ease it. Including by providing financial aid and quickly channeling funds to businesses and citizens."