Bennett Suggests Lockdown for Unvaccinated, Sparks Heated Exchange With Horowitz

YERUSHALAYIM -
Prime Minister Naftali Bennet and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz hold a press conference in Tel Aviv, Nov. 26. (Moti Milrod/POOL)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett floated the option of introducing a lockdown for Israelis not vaccinated against COVID-19 during a situation assessment Thursday on the Omicron coronavirus variant, sparking a heated exchange with Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz.

The things were said during a situation assessment regarding restrictions imposed due to the discovery of the Omicron coronavirus strain in Israel, attended by Horowitz and other senior officials.

Among the proposals made by Bennett were also a lockdown for the unvaccinated and the closure of Ben Gurion airport, igniting a heated debate that escalated to shouting.

Health Ministry officials sharply criticized the proposals which also Horowitz opposed. Horowitz and others in attendance called the proposals “unreasonable” and said that a lockdown for the unvaccinated amounted to “forced vaccinations.”

Those present at the meeting were highly doubtful whether the proposals could pass constitutional muster in a democracy, with one official being quoted as saying that Bennett “has lost it.”

The premier said in response that the borders may need to be tightened to delay the onset of another wave of COVID-19 morbidity.

“We know the price, but through decisive and immediate measures, we can prevent a lockdown,” he said.

After the meeting, the Prime Minister’s Office said that the attendants at the meeting agreed to ramp up enforcement of the Green Pass with an emphasis on issuing immediate fines and without warning in case of an infraction.

Officials agreed to meet again later on Thursday to discuss further restrictions on Ben Gurion airport.