Bennett defends no-lockdown policy, says protecting livelihoods saves lives

Prime Minister Bennett took to social media to defend his position against a lockdown, stressing that “safeguarding the livelihoods of the citizens of Israel is also safeguarding their lives.”

By Adina Katz, World Israel News

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett appealed to the public on his Facebook page Saturday night, detailing the national plan to fight the Delta wave.

“Our goal is simple: To safeguard the health of the citizens of Israel and the economic future of the State of Israel.,” he said.

“Safeguarding the livelihoods of the citizens of Israel is also safeguarding their lives.”

The government’s “strategy,” he said, is “to act to moderate the morbidity – to accelerate the campaign for the third inoculation and, with your help, to beat the corona pandemic.

“We will do everything to avoid lockdowns, which – to livelihoods, the economy and the education of our children – are destructive tools. Lockdowns are only a last resort.

“It would be very easy to declare a lockdown and give money to the closed businesses and the workers sitting at home. But the policy of lockdowns has a terrible price…

“For example, we thought about the people killed in traffic accidents. It would be possible to reduce to zero the number of fatalities from traffic accidents by banning travel on Israel’s highways. But we all understand that we have to live and allow traffic in Israel.”

Therefore, Bennett continued, “we must find a responsible balance between all the needs.”

He then elaborated in what could be perceived as a scare tactic to convince the naysayers to follow the law, such as wearing masks in closed spaces.

‘How many soldiers’ lives would be lost?’

“The price tag for the three lockdowns led by the previous government was NIS 200 billion,” he said.

“That is 200,000,000,000. This is NIS 200,000 x one million. This is our money, yours, and our children’s and great-grand children’s.

“If we continue with the policy of lockdowns and economically destructive restrictions, we will simply collapse economically.

“The immense amount that we spent on lockdowns, the effectiveness of which was low in any case, is a sum that was taken from important goals for you and for your children.

“How many soldiers’ lives would be lost, Heaven forbid, is we could not allow ourselves to equip them with innovative APCs with advanced protection because we wasted the money on lockdowns?

“How many children and older people would we not be able to send to life-saving operations?

How many MRI machines would we not be able to finance and thus we would miss thousands of cancer patients at early stages?

“How many lessons in science, mathematics or English would we be unable to finance?

“How many old-age pensions for elderly without means would we be unable to provide?

“Think for a moment: Every family in Israel is NIS 105,000 in debt due to the price tag of the three lockdowns.

Each one of us and our children will need to pay back this debt through taxes and reduced services over decades to come. I am trying with all my power to stop this hemorrhaging.”

‘Lockdowns have a direct cost in human lives’

The opposition has attacked Bennett for allegedly placing more emphasis on the economy than on the value of human life. In an apparent response to that accusation, the said that “lockdowns have a direct cost in human lives” and that the government is trying to solve the problem by encouraging all citizens who are eligible to get a third dose of the vaccine.

“We are the only country in which vaccines are available for everyone and the only one in which there is a third dose, a booster. This is not a given and it is possible thanks to our hard work.”

Former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has criticized Bennett for not initiating the third dose weeks earlier.

“The Delta wave began before my government was formed. The strain had already penetrated into Israel in March, April and May,” Bennett said. “We are taking responsibility and are now implementing important steps that have not been carried out up until now.”

When will this end?

“What now? When will this end?” Bennett continued.

“I don’t know. I certainly cannot indicate a date.

“While difficult days are yet before us, I am certain that if we act according to the plan, and if the citizens of Israel wear masks, get vaccinated as soon as it is available for them, and in general, if we act with solidarity and mutual assistance, we will overcome the Delta strain.

“To lock down the country – that is very easy.

“But what is right is to turn over every stone so that the citizens of Israel will be healthy, so that the State of Israel will remain open, to safeguard the citizens of Israel physically, emotionally and economically, to not take away their daily bread and lose their livelihoods – and to make the right decisions to these ends.”

Due to the great demand for night inoculations in Tel Aviv, Bennett has directed that night vaccination stands be opened in 10 main cities in Israel from Sunday until Tuesday night.

“This is the saving of lives and night inoculations allow people who do not want to miss work to get vaccinated without an appointment at unconventional hours. We will continue to make every effort to vaccinate everyone who is willing and able,” he said.