‘Netanyahu saved 4,500 lives’: Likud minister comes to embattled PM’s defense

Israel’s leader is increasingly under fire over his failure to stop a second wave of the virus.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

Minister of Intelligence Eli Cohen came to embattled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s defense on Tuesday, pointing out the number of lives that have been saved by his corona policies.

Israel’s leader is increasingly under fire over his failure to stop a second wave of the virus and the economic restrictions he has felt obliged to reimpose. The public’s disapproval is reflected in sinking poll numbers.

However, Cohen says that the critics are missing the bigger picture. “The government’s policy spared us 4,500 dead,” Cohen told Israel’s Channel 13.

“When we look at countries of similar size, we’re talking about 5,000 deaths,” Cohen said. “Every person is a whole world. The government’s and prime minister’s policy is what led to,” the low death rate.

“Shabak’s tracking, which the opposition said should never ever be used – that is what helped us locate another 2,500 cases,” Cohen added, referring to the controversial use of GPS software that Israel’s internal security agency normally uses against terrorists, but which was adapted to help in the corona fight.

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The use of the software was quickly stopped after the first wave but has since been put back into use.

As the virus resurfaced, Netanyahu found himself blamed for the unhappy result. Unlike the first wave, which saw Israelis more willing to follow the government’s instructions, this time the administration has seen pushback as it attempts to impose curfews and bring back restrictions.

Several protests against the government’s handling of the crisis are planned for Tuesday and a Tel Aviv protest is planned for next Saturday night.

Protests already have erupted in Jerusalem as haredim demonstrated against what they saw as an unfair lockdown targeting their neighborhoods.

In Tel Aviv, a mass protest was held last Saturday night attended by some 10,000 people protesting their economic situation brought on by the government’s restrictions.

Both protests saw violence between police and demonstrators.

There are currently 21,393 active corona cases in Israel.