Israeli State Comptroller Slams Netanyahu’s COVID-19 ‘Mistakes’, But is Bennett Any Different?

On Tuesday, Israel’s State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman released his first report about the management of the coronavirus crisis, suggesting that the government has failed to tackle the issue.

This is in stark

contrast

to the image Israel previously enjoyed – that of a success story, a country that managed to curb the spread of COVID-19 and who succeeded in overcoming an acute economic crisis.

Failure After Failure

Most of Englman’s criticism is directed at the previous Israeli government – that of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his then-partner Benny Gantz, during whose tenure he conducted his study.

Englman accused the previous coalition of not passing the national budget, something that he said hampered the efforts to allocate funds for relevant bodies to handle and contain the crisis.


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He blamed them for not implementing strict measures that would have prevented the virus from entering and then spreading across the country, for not tackling the acute economic crisis that the pandemic has unlocked, for not helping hospitals and medical staff, and for creating wider chasms between Israeli students, who were forced to study via Zoom, rather than face-to-face interaction.

Englman is also calling on the current government led by PM Naftali Bennett to learn from past mistakes and make sure that the lessons of 2020 are not repeated.

Is Bennett Any Different?

So far, the handling of the fourth wave doesn’t appear to be heading in the right direction.

Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport, arguably the source of the fourth wave, is

still open

. Those returning to Israel from abroad have been asked to quarantine themselves, but in the absence of special tracking equipment, funds, or law enforcement agency staff, the supervision of returnees has become mission impossible.

A similar situation is seen on the streets of Israel, at private businesses and in public offices. While some adhere to the social distancing rules and make sure that visitors keep their face masks on, others ignore the restrictions, and the police are struggling to handle the situation.

Financially speaking, Israel is still facing an unemployment problem. Although the current rate stands at 7.6 percent, the lowest since the outbreak of the pandemic, in a country, where the jobless rate has rarely

passed

the 5 percent mark, the current fiscal situation is still alarming.

What’s also alarming is the state of Israeli hospitals.


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REUTERS / RONEN ZVULUN


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On Tuesday, more than 10,000 cases were

registered

, pushing the overall number of those, who are currently sick with the virus to nearly 90,000. Over 700 people are in critical condition, with some 172 connected to ventilators.

The spike in numbers has

overcrowded

Israeli hospitals, with many sounding the alarm over the

lack

of ambulances and medical equipment.

Yet, Israel’s government doesn’t appear to be disturbed by the pleas of the country’s medical establishment. And when their demands were not met, hundreds of Israeli doctors launched a strike and staged a demonstration in front of the Ministry of Health in Jerusalem, urging officials to pay them their salaries and provide them with funds and equipment.

They also

slammed

Minister of Health Nitzan Horowitz for failing to address their concerns and apologised to their patients, who have been denied assistance as a result of the crisis.

Will Englman address these and other failures in yet another

report

? Time will tell, but one thing is certain – he will not be able to ignore them, not when Israel’s public is fuming over the way the current coalition has been handling the pandemic, and not when 60 percent of media poll respondents believe the government’s management has been a failure.