Netanyahu rebuffs State Comptroller report that Israel wasn’t ready for pandemic – ‘no one was’

Netanyahu responded to a pre-pandemic State Comptroller report indicating that Israel was not ready for an epidemic by claiming that no country was prepared.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Israel’s state comptroller released a damning report Monday detailing Israel’s lack of preparation for a major epidemic, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rebuffed criticism, saying that no country in the world had been prepared for the coronavirus pandemic.

Matanyahu Englman, who was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pick for the position, said the report was “a criticism that is looking to the future. It is found that the plague is a real risk to Israel. I hope our recommendations have already been reflected in the current crisis,” Englman told Channel 11 news.

Israel’s embattled health system is facing a lack of protective medical gear and problems with testing for the virus as an exponential growth in the coronavirus infection rate is expected to flood hospitals with thousands of new patients in the near future.

“The audit found deficiencies in the preparation of the Ministry of Health, the health funds and the hospitalization system to deal with outbreaks of new and emerging diseases,” the report summary stated.

Although the report was prepared last year before the corona outbreak, the comptroller’s office said it was only due to be released after the formation of a new government. However, after three consecutive inconclusive national elections, the comptroller released the report notwithstanding the current caretaker government’s status.

The comptroller’s analysis contained some frightening predictions, including a scenario envisioned by the Ministry of Health anticipating an influenza epidemic “expected to infect about 2,250,000 residents in Israel (about 25% of the population) [with an] increase in morbidity … spread over about eight weeks, with about 150,000 more hospitalized.”

In projections for that epidemic, it was estimated that “about 25,000 patients [would] need hospitalization in intensive care units, and another 12,500 [would] need ventilation. The National Preparedness Program does not address the number of isolation rooms required. It should be noted that the hospitalization system is at great burden all year round. Many departments in general hospitals are overcrowded and there is a shortage of ICUs,” the report stated.

‘No country in the world was prepared’

Netanyahu fired back in a post on his Facebook page saying that Israel was ranked in the top 10 countries in the world in medical care, and nobody was ready for corona.

“No country in the world has been prepared for the corona epidemic, a [crisis the likes of which] we we have not known for the past 100 years,” Netanyahu said. “No country in the world could predict or prepare for the spread of the virus.

Channel 1 commentator Mordechai Gilat said it looked to him that the prime minister was already aware of the content of the report and was using it.

“He is preparing the public for the possibility that there will be thousands of dead from corona,” Gilat said. “The auditor didn’t understand how important it was to get the report published early, he didn’t want to publish the names of people [responsible]–there’s a scary chain of omissions here that do not have” the names of those responsible attached to them.

The Health Ministry responded by saying it was studying the findings and was in the process of applying some of the report’s recommendations to the coronavirus epidemic, Ynet reported.

Additional criticism came from unnamed officials in the comptroller’s office who said the report was ready months ago and criticized him for delaying its publication, adding that failing to name those at fault meant the criticism was “toothless,” Times of Israel reported.