Netanyahu Updates Nation on Coronavirus Crisis

A general view shows the empty parking lot of a mall in Yerushalayim after Israel’s health ministry urged people not to leave their homes except to seek “vital needs and services” in coronavirus pandemic, Tuesday. (Reuters/Ammar Awad)

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu‏‏ rebuked the nation in a live broadcast Tuesday night on its behavior during the coronavirus crisis.

In what has become a nightly update, Netanyahu said that while Israel was doing well so far, the public will pay severe consequences for non-compliance with Health Ministry restrictions.

“Happily we haven’t lost anyone. This won’t last,” he warned. “This isn’t a kids game… it’s a matter of life and death.”

Netanyahu announced new measures to contain the pandemic: digital tracking of infected persons, approved on Tuesday; and a big increase in the testing program, to reach 5,000 coronavirus tests per day.

“All of these steps will not work unless you show responsibility,” he said to the people of Israel. “I can’t believe what I’m seeing…people on the beach thinking this is a holiday,” he said, echoing a statement from President Reuven Rivlin earlier Tuesday.

The prime minister appealed to Israelis to show “discipline and responsibility” to help curb the spread of the virus.

Also on Tuesday night, Sigal Sadetsky, head of public health services in the Health Ministry, clarified that tests for the coronavirus are not a “solution” to the pandemic but a “tool” in helping to stop it.

Sadetsky stressed that only social distancing and quarantines can beat the virus.