Bennett and Elkin
Bennett and Elkin Olivier Fitoussi/Flash 90

A verbal confrontation broke out on Tuesday evening at the Coronavirus Cabinet meeting which was held at the Kirya base in Tel Aviv.

The incident began when Minister of Construction and Housing Ze'ev Elkin (New Hope) tried to ask Prime Minister Naftali Bennett some questions, and Bennett in turn tried to silence Elkin.

Elkin said that in order to represent government policy he must understand every detail, and raised his voice. The Prime Minister told Elkin, "Do not raise your voice, ask questions, no problem, but you do not have to raise your voice."

Elkin attacked Bennett and told him, “If you are holding the meeting just to say you held a meeting, then there is no need. Do not be surprised that the public does not understand, if I do not get answers either.”

At the start of the meeting, Bennett pleaded with the ministers, “Be collegial. It is not true to say that there is confusion and problematic information.”

The Ministry of Health asked the cabinet ministers to recommend to Israeli citizens not to travel abroad and not to gather if it is not necessary. However, no concrete decision was made at the cabinet meeting.

Earlier on Tuesday, Bennett convened a press conference amid the dramatic rise in cases of COVID-19, and promised, "We will get through this together."

“We are confronting a wave of infection the likes of which the world has not seen in 100 years. Omicron is a strain that is more infectious than all of the others put together. The numbers are higher than we have seen until now,” he said.

On the possibility of a lockdown, Bennett said, "There is a wave that will strike in Israel as well. Because of the time we gained, we were able to stabilize a strategy and prepare the State of Israel for the tsunami that we will experience. The main principle is to protect the vulnerable. A lockdown won’t help."

Bennett also responded to a video made by opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu in which he mocked the reliability of the antigen test for coronavirus.

"Nothing that Netanyahu does can surprise me at this point," Bennett said. "I saw a video of Netanyahu eroding public confidence in the antigen test. It is not just an irresponsible act but an anti-patriotic one. Netanyahu's behavior is irresponsible and unpatriotic."

Bennett then attacked the opposition, saying, "I call on all the propagators of chaos and hysteria to cease. It is true that children will have to enter quarantine and there will be long lines. We are in a situation that happens once in a generation and we are managing it responsibly. The opposition is creating chaos."

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