Israel’s second viral wave continues unchecked, corona czar threatens to quit

Daily infection rate rises to almost 2,000 as hospitals filling with patients.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Ministry of Health statistics released Wednesday showed that there are no signs the second wave of coronavirus infections is being brought under control.

In the past 24 hours, the ministry reported 1,943 new infections, the highest figure since the end of July, bringing the number of active cases in Israel to 20,581.

There are currently 855 hospitalized with coronavirus, with more than half of them, 430, listed in serious condition. To date, 867 people in Israel have died from the virus.

After beng criticized by members of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, the government-appointed coronavirus czar, Prof. Ronni Gamzu, said he would quit if politicians kept undercutting his authority.

Gamzu was tasked with overseeing the response to the pandemic. While opposed to a national lockdown, Gamzu noted with alarm that Knesset members were criticizing some of his directives.

Gamzu said the annual pilgrimage of 25,000 or more Israelis to a revered rabbi’s tomb in Ukraine for the Rosh Hashana holiday should not take place. However, Likud member Micky Zohar tweeted that he is working to get at least 6,000 Israelis to make the trip, despite a joint call last week by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Ukrainian leaders not to do so.

“I respect the worshipers, and the hard messages they are sending me hurt me,” Gamzu said of the criticism heaped on him by religious leaders. “But I’m not considering [abandoning my] position. If I see I’m not given the tools to bring down the sickness, I have [no reason to stay] in the post.”

At a dedication ceremony Wednesday morning for the new Ministry of Health national control center set up near Ben Gurion Airport, Gamzu fired back at the critics.

“It is not certain that all members of the government and members of the Knesset understand what we are doing here,” Gamzu said.

Gamzu got some backing from his boss, Health Ministry Yuli Edelstein, who said the decisions coming from his ministry “are the best, and were made by the best experts that the State of Israel has to offer.”

Edelstein supported Gamzu on the decision advising Israelis not to travel to Ukraine.

“National responsibility says that this year is not the year to fly to Uman,” Edelstein said.