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Former Israeli Health Minister Accuses Netanyahu of Spreading Panic Over Coronavirus

Former Israeli Health Minister Accuses Netanyahu of Spreading Panic Over Coronavirus

Tuesday, 19 May, 2020 - 10:00
People get their hair cut in a barbershop in Jerusalem as workers wear face masks as protection against coronavirus March 18, 2020. REUTERS/Ammar Awad
Tel Aviv- Asharq Al-Awsat

Former Israeli Health Minister Yaakov Litzman accused his closest political allies, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, of overstating the impact of the coronavirus on the country just before resigning from his post.

Litzman said that the director-general of his ministry, Moshe Bar Siman-Tov, showed exaggerated fear during the management of the crisis, adding that Netanyahu “operated according to that.”

In comments to Israeli media, the resigned minister said: “Corona is a serious epidemic, but there has been an increase in panic... When [Bar Siman-Tov] said he feared tens of thousands would die, I yelled at the cabinet meeting, in his presence and in the presence of the ministers, that I disagreed with that assessment. It’s just exaggerated.”

Litzman continued: “We were in a regular government session in the presence of Prime Minister Netanyahu, and I said that these are unrealistic figures, and I objected to building our policy on this basis. Unfortunately, Netanyahu was convinced with the words of Siman-Tov and he responded to his concerns.”

His comments came in parallel with the ministry’s report, which indicated that no new infections had been recorded in the past 12 hours, while only four new cases were reported in the past 24 hours.

The total number of infections in Israel has reached 16,621 to date, including 272 deaths.

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