Ben Gurion airport
Ben Gurion airportFlash 90

Former Health Ministry Director General Professor Gabi Barabash responded to the government's plan to reopen Ben Gurion International Airport - despite the rising infection coefficient.

On Tuesday night, the Transportation Ministry announced that it intends to approve just 1,000 Israelis returning per day, despite the Cabinet's decision to approve the return of 3,000 people per day.

In an interview with 103 FM Radio, Prof. Barabash said: "The location of the battle is at the airport."

"How is this [reopening] connected to elections when you had two months to prepare for it?" he demanded. "I would like to see something very simple happen. I would like to see a coronavirus test done before and after a flight - for everyone who gets on the plane. I want that no Israeli citizen who is not vaccinated should get on a flight, unless he has a good reason for not being vaccinated. Anyone who is not vaccinated is above age 16, and if he doesn't have a good reason not to get vaccinated - he doesn't get on a flight."

"If he is an Israeli who was vaccinated, he can come in freely. If he lives abroad and is vaccinated, and he has a certificate of vaccination, he does a serological test, stays in a specific and isolated place for 24 hours, until he receives the results of the test. If he tests positive - meaning he has antibodies - he can go free, if he doesn't then he goes into quarantine."

When asked why the government is reopening the airport if they are not prepared to take such precautions, Barabash said that they are opening the airport "because they are irresponsible. They have been giving in to public pressure from the first day of this pandemic. They do what the public wants, and not what it needs. Every time."

Later in the interview, Barabash analyzed the spread of various mutations in Israel, noting that despite the fact that the vaccines are doing good work, and we could have been like New Zealand, the situation is still not good. "We're not there, and now we're never going to be there."

Regarding the New York variant, he warned: "According to research done with the vaccines, which focus on the virus' spike protein, it has been proven that this variant is less susceptible to the vaccines. It's not completely resistant to the vaccine, but more like somewhere around 50%, instead of 95% efficacy."

"That is what we are afraid of, that is what we are concerned about."

He added: "We have three million children here, who even if they do not have serious symptoms, I don't know what the long-term effects, in another 10-20 years, will be for those who contract this virus. We're always talking about the long-term effects of the vaccine - I have no idea what the long-term effects of the disease are."

This, he said, is a concern "whether they have symptoms or not."