Israel’s corona czar says he will make order out of chaos

Ronni Gamzu vows to rebuild public trust in fight against pandemic, says he doesn’t want American yeshiva students yet.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Corona Czar Professor Ronni Gamzu admitted serious mistakes were made, but the newly appointed quarterback of the fight against the pandemic declared he can overcome political pressures to get Israel back on track and regain public trust.

“Everything will be arranged in the coming week,” Gamzu told Channel 12 News in a weekend interview.

“There will be a re-look at the restrictions, but this time at a round table with everyone present. We will hear everyone. We will come in order, with the professional agreement of the director-generals [of different ministries], and then we will arrange everything.”

Gamzu was appointed by the government two weeks ago in a bid to centralize policy and restore public confidence after chaos ensued from a series of conflicting decisions by different government ministries that were overruled by members of the Knesset coronavirus committee. Different sectors of the economy had threatened to reject rules imposed at the last minute, at one point forcing an embarrassed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to back down from an order to close restaurants last weekend.

His credentials are impressive as an MD and PhD in medicine together with master’s degrees in health administration and business and another degree in law. He is a professor of health administration, the director of Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, and previously served as the director general of the Ministry of Health.

“My strength is the strength of professionalism,” Gamzu told Channel 12. “All government ministers understand that I am the answer to this complex dilemma of society, economy and medicine. And the truth is that I feel the full backing and extraordinary ability to influence with the full support of the prime minister.”

Gamzu explained he was not looking at the previous failures in crisis management.

“I really want to take the citizens of the State of Israel forward,” he said. “Yes, there were mistakes, and yes, there were restrictions that I did not see the logic in and that distanced the public.” Gamzu agreed that anybody looking at the decisions saw the flip-flop decisions and that closing some sectors of the economy while opening others made no sense, especially to those who lost their livelihoods.

I was given a lot of responsibility,” Gamzu said. “It’s not easy and I feel it on my shoulders – I serve the citizens of the State of Israel. I have confidence in my path. I’m not sure I will succeed, but I really think we are all in this together … if we know how to cooperate we will succeed.”

Gamzu also criticized the decision to allow 16,000 yeshiva students from the United States to enter Israel ahead of the Jewish High Holidays in September.

“We need to do something wise here to prevent another fire,” Gamzu said. “It’s a decision that was made before I took office. I’m not yet completely certain what additional instructions we need to issue.”

Thousands of American students come to Israel annually to study at seminaries. Several outbreaks earlier this year were traced to infected students flying in from New York at a time when the pandemic was raging in that city and before Israel closed down air travel completely.