Netanyahu sets up fund to help Israeli businesses crippled by coronavirus

EL AL Airlines calls on the government to provide financial assistance.

By Aaron Sull, World Israel News

Israel’s economy has begun to feel the effects of the coronavirus as it inches towards a full-scale pandemic.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that he would establish a fund to help Israeli companies sustain their losses.

“We will establish an aid fund of 4 billion shekels, which will help companies that were economically affected by the spread of the virus,” Netanyahu told his Cabinet on Sunday.

Israel’s central bank said last week that although there hasn’t been a major economic disruption yet it is still making preparations for the worst.

Reuters reports that EL AL Airlines has requested financial assistance from the government after projections showed a massive decline in revenue for the start of the year

Netanyahu also said that after speaking to world leaders there is no guarantee that the virus will abate during the spring and summer months.

“The assumption that the virus will disappear or evaporate in hot weather is unproven,” Netanyahu said. “At the moment, this has no basis that we can build on.”

According to the Prime Minister, despite Israel’s competency in handling the situation, there is fear caused by “fake news” which is “sowing panic” unnecessarily.

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“Only listen to official notices from the Health Ministry and official sources” and follow their instructions which “are not a joke and are not a matter of choice,” Netanyahu said.

“I ask you to strictly follow instructions. Do not shake hands. Avoid touching your face and if you do, use a tissue,” he said. “These are things that will stop, reduce or slow the spread of the pandemic.”

“Look after the instructions and we will look after you. We will work together responsibly and calmly while upholding our promises,” the prime minister added.