Israeli police have cancelled three-quarters of the investigations into Israelis who had been suspected of falsifying COVID tests in order to return home from Uman after the Rosh Hashanah holiday this month, Galei Tzahal reported Sunday afternoon.
According to the report, authorities have closed the investigations of 150 of the 200 travelers who returned from Ukraine after Rosh Hashanah, retracting requests that they report for questioning.
The travelers, who had spent the holiday at the tomb of Rebbe Nachman, founder of the Breslov Hasidic movement, had been suspected of forging the negative COVID tests needed to return home, after authorities found them to have tested positive upon their return. In addition, Israeli police had claimed that the suspects had tested positive in the Ukraine prior to departure.
Now, however, it appears that the 150 travelers in question in fact tested negative both upon their arrival to Israel and in the Ukraine prior to departure.
Following the return of the roughly 17,000 Israelis who traveled to Uman this Rosh Hashanah, data collected by Israel’s Health Ministry found that over 9% of the returnees tested positive for COVID upon their arrival in Israel.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett castigated the travelers suspected of falsifying COVID tests, and ordered police to immediately open investigations of those under suspicion.
“The Israeli government takes a very serious view of patients who fraudulently enter Israel by falsifying documents and deliberately spread disease, which constitutes an irresponsible act of harming public good,” Bennett said in a statement.
In response to the Galei Tzahal report Sunday, MK Bezalel Smotrich (Religious Zionist Party) excoriated Bennett and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz for pushing for a rapid investigation of travelers returning from Uman.
“I’m willing to bet that we won’t be hearing any apologies from any of the populist politicians, from Bennett to Horowitz, who rushed to join in the border-line anti-Semitic attack on those returning from Uman in order to distract us from their colossal failures in handling the coronavirus pandemic; failures which have cost more than a thousand lives since the establishment of this government – along with crowding at hospitals. You should be ashamed of yourselves.”