Israel’s Health Ministry director general quits: I’m proud of my service

“I am proud of my years as director general and especially in dealing with the corona crisis,” Bar Siman-Tov tweeted.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

He is Israel’s Dr. Anthony Fauci – the face of the government perhaps most identifiable to Israelis in connection with the corona crisis. But Moshe Bar Siman-Tov, director general of the Health Ministry, announced on Tuesday afternoon that he quit his position.

In a tweet he said, “I today announced to the prime minister and the minister of health my desire to retire from the position of director of health. I am proud of my years as director general and especially in dealing with the corona crisis. I will stay the time required for an orderly passing of the baton and wish success to the next minister and director general.”

Siman-Tov was overall a reassuring voice of calm and authority during the height of the crisis, or at least the first wave of a pandemic that may return. Israel is already preparing for the possibility of a second wave after testing failed to show that the population had built up ‘herd immunity.’

For part of the crisis, Siman-Tov found himself operating from isolation, though he ended up testing negative for the virus.

Bar Siman-Tov’s decision to leave is a combination of factors. He has taken heavy criticism from other ministers for opposing some of the easing measures urged by ministries concerned with Israel’s faltering economy in the wake of the crisis. Bar Siman-Tov has taken a more cautious and conservative line on loosening the health regulations.

On Sunday night, during a government discussion, Bar Siman-Tov opposed the opening of exercise equipment areas at local parks. When the government OK’d the opening of beaches, Bar Siman-Tov publicly said he didn’t agree with the decision.

A second reason is the departure of his boss, Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, who moved to the Ministry of Construction and Housing. The incoming minister, who has not yet been announced, has the right to pick a director general of his choosing. Bar Siman-Tov would rather not be pushed out but leave under his own steam, say reports.

The Globes website reported that leaving “would be a logical decision. He is strongly affiliated with Minister Litzman, so it makes sense for another minister to appoint a director general to his liking.”