Internal medicine and gastroenterology specialist and Hesder Yeshiva in Shaalvim graduate Dr. Shmuel Rochberger today issued a plea to Knesset and government members following revelations of several senior government officials and legislators violating COVID-19 lockdown guidelines.
The letter reads:
"Judge every man favorably, it is said in Pirkei Avot.
"The best of our people have stumbled by violating the lockdown guidelines - the President, the Prime Minister, the finest Knesset Members and ministers, and now also one of the best from among our people - the head of the Shin Bet, Nadav Argaman.
"One could react reflexively - with self-righteousness cloaked in hypocrisy - by expressing deep shock, which would be articulated in the columns of the best publicists, in the written and electronic press.
"But you can also try to read between the lines and ask:
"How could such a brilliant and valued person, whose entire life is a chronicle of devotion to the State of Israel and its inhabitants, find it appropriate to break the rules of the closure?
"The answer in my opinion is clear and it's time to say it openly:
"All these good people just do not really believe in the logic behind the policy of closure and paralyzing all the residents of Israel.
"They secretly understand that the disease is dangerous for the elderly and those at-risk but mild in young and healthy people.
"They do not really believe in the existing predatory policy and like them many millions of Israelis.
"Perhaps it's time to seriously consider the other approach - the one supported by hundreds of doctors and scientists in the State of Israel - to better protect adults and allow healthy young people to acquire immunity and thus significantly reduce mortality and serious morbidity and prevent economic and human destruction."
So far, there has been no response from the government or Knesset Members.
Yesterday, Reshet Bet reported that Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman hosted family members at his home on Sukkot in violation of government COVID-19 guidelines. The report said Argaman's daughter and other guests who do not live in the family home were present on Saturday at the GSS chief's home.
According to government COVID-19 lockdown regulations, presence in the house or sukkah of a person who does not live in that house is an offense for which the fine is NIS 500.
Also straying more than 1,000 meters from one's residence not for the purpose of stocking up on food or essential groceries is prohibited and carries a fine of NIS 500.
5,058 fines were handed out to ordinary Israeli citizens in the past day for violating coronavirus guidelines. Most of them, 3,100, were issued for going out for a "prohibited purpose or action".
In recent days, COVID-19 regulation violations by public figures have been exposed, including by Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel, who yesterday apologized for a similar circumstance and by former Deputy Minister MK Mickey Levy.
Also, Yediot Aharonotreports a hairdresser was summoned to the Prime Minister’s Residence during the current lockdown, in violation of government directives, in order to tend to the wife of the Prime Minister, Sara Netanyahu.
At the beginning of Monday's Coronavirus Cabinet meeting, the Prime Minister referred to the Gamliel affair and said, "We're all committed to following the rules. This includes all representatives of the public - ministers and Knesset Members."
Neither Argaman, Levy, nor Gamliel have offered to forfeit their positions of public trust after violating government policy.
Meanwhile, there have been calls from citizen's groups to withhold Knesset Member's salaries for the duration of the lockdown, pointing out that their willingness to pay the fines for violations is unimpressive as they would be paying their debt to society with taxpayer money.