Lockdown checkpoint
Lockdown checkpointNati Shohat/Flash90

Finance Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) sparred with senior Health Ministry officials Monday over the efficacy of the ongoing nationwide lockdown, as well as plans for ending the lockdown and reopening the economy.

Speaking with Reshet Bet Monday morning, Katz pushed back against claims by Deputy Health Minister Yoav Kisch (Likud) that the current lockdown saved ‘at least’ 2,000 lives.

“I don’t think that’s correct,” Katz said.

The Finance Minister argued in favor of a rapid reopening of the economy as soon as the lockdown ends this coming Friday.

“We need to open all businesses and the economy immediately with the end of the lockdown.”

“These places [of business] are not centers of infection, rather they are sources of livelihood. It is a fact that despite them being closed, the infection rates went up.”

Katz also criticized the Health Ministry, saying the ministry had failed to expand the health care system’s ability to cope with large numbers of patients, including failing to sufficiently increase hospital capacity.

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein (Likud) fired back Monday, blaming the Finance Ministry for the Health Ministry’s woes.

“The Finance Ministry has made the Health Ministry poor and skinny, including during the pandemic, when the Health Minister was forced to fight for every shekel.”

“Let’s point out that if it were up to the Finance Ministry, we still wouldn’t have a single vaccine here in Israel. Given that, Finance Ministry officials are the last people who can complain. I advise the Finance Minister to deal with revitalizing the economy and to let the health care system do what it does best – deal with public health, including during the pandemic.”