Binyamin Netanyahu
Binyamin Netanyahu GPO

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu left the Coronavirus Cabinet discussions Wednesday evening to explain to the Israeli public the importance of the decision to tighten the nationwide lockdown, a decision that is expected to be made soon.

"The situation is severe, the ascent is steep, we need to understand that there is a danger to life here, so there is no choice but to make difficult decisions in order to save lives," Netanyahu said.

In the past day, 6,948 new coronavirus cases were diagnosed in Israel. According to data from the Health Ministry, a new record was reached in the number of patients on ventilators, which now stands at 177. The number of patients hospitalized in critical condition stands at 658. 14.5% of the tests returned today with a positive result. The death toll stands at 1,317.

The prime minister said at the meeting of the Coronavirus Cabinet that there would be no choice but to impose a more severe lockdown on Israeli citizens in the coming days, and said that "it is better to start now during the holidays."

Health Ministry Deputy Director General Prof. Itamar Grotto said in the cabinet meeting that "there is no need for a complete closure right now. It is possible to wait with the tightening of measures." Netanyahu replied: "Why wait? After Sukkot, the closure will cost us more money."

Earlier, Netanyahu sharply criticized the Blue and White ministers for not acting to limit the protests which have continued despite the lockdown.

"I fully support the right to demonstrate, but every week Israeli citizens see how they are required to celebrate the holidays alone, how they are required to comply with health guidelines, and on the other hand how demonstrators gather en masse in violation of all health rules," Netanyahu said.

''31 people died from the coronavirus today. I am fighting for the lives of the citizens of Israel. I fight for public health. At this time there are those who do a little politics. We're at war. Wake up," the prime minister added.

In the afternoon, Defense Minister Benny Gantz convened an urgent consultation with members of the Corona Cabinet from the Blue and White party. After conferring with them Gantz instructed the ministers to demand the summoning of the medical professionals to hear their position and to make sure that they express it openly in the Coronvirusa Cabinet and to cease further discussion on the issue of demonstrations.

Gantz told the ministers: "We insist on the good health of the citizens and on stopping morbidity while balancing the elements of Judaism, democracy, the economy and society and do not focus only on the issue of demonstrations. We must stop the disproportionate discussion of demonstrations immediately."

''We accept the position of the professionals on the important issue of a full closure and state of emergency. Our decision has implications for human life and we will accept it solely in accordance with the position of the professionals. Only according to the needs of the hour in health, the economy and in stopping the disease," Gantz said.

נתניהו: המצב קשה, יש עלייה תלולה