Israel’s Health Minister calls for tighter lockdown, gets support from surprising corner

“We will demand a full-blown lockdown for two weeks. We need to deal one strong blow to morbidity rates and embark on a new path together,” he said.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said that despite the remarkable speed with which Israel is inoculating its population, the number of rising cases means “there’s no avoiding a full-blown lockdown, including closing schools.”

“We will demand a full-blown lockdown for two weeks. We need to deal one strong blow to morbidity rates and embark on a new path together,” he said.

“We’re going through a very severe outbreak and are probably in a more dire situation than we were in at the beginning of September,” Edelstein said.

The current lockdown has been criticized, including by Edelstein, as not being strict enough. On Dec. 31, he said “We are not in a lockdown. We are with restrictions.”

“We wanted a relatively short, full, strong lockdown, precisely because we thought about limiting the economic damage,” he said at the time. “After the government meeting and principally because it passed through Knesset committees we are in a totally different situation.”

Read  Israeli lawmakers demand details of Netanyahu 'support' for Saudi nuclear program

Edelstein received backing for a full backdown from a surprising corner – Israel’s small businesses and mall operators. They have been hardest hit by the lockdowns and restrictions since the pandemic began.

Israel Hayom reports that a group of commercial associations met and demanded on Sunday that the government impose a full closure. If not, they’ll open regardless of what the government wants starting on Jan. 10.

“Either a full-closure or opening of business on the 10th of the month and not the day after,” they said.

Shachar Turgeman, chairman of a small business association said, “We are a respectable bunch that represents all trades. We came to this situation because of serious failures by the Israeli government.”

“We tell the Israeli government – do a full Yom Kippur closure, not a fake closure. Because of the government’s policy, 90,000 businesses were destroyed. Half a million workers leave and return from being out of work like a yo-yo. There are tens of thousands of zombies among us, walking dead. No one counts us,” Turgeman said.

“We are ready to close on condition that the Israeli government announces a full closure for 10 days, during which everything will be closed, except for food and pharmacies until 7:00 p.m. This is without blinking and winking at one electorate or another,” he said.

Read  WATCH: CNN asks Netanyahu if he's willing to 'blow up' his gov't for Saudi peace

Small businesses have expressed anger in the past at the random and seemingly illogical nature of the closures, where some businesses can operate but not others.

While there has been criticism of lockdowns as ineffective, the Sunday statement by the business groups appears to criticize the half-measures and not lockdowns themselves.