Thursday, 26 March 2020 | Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged Israelis to comply with government measures that came into effect yesterday and stay at home.
“The steps taken so far have not been enough and the number of confirmed cases is on the rise. If we cannot change the tide, we will have to impose a full lockdown,” the prime minister said.
Telling Israelis to exercise self-discipline, Netanyahu said a disaster will occur if citizens won’t strictly adhere to the directives.
“The virus does not differentiate secular from religious and Arab from Jewish,” Netanyahu said. “The number of infected people doubles every three days and more people will be in danger of death from the disease.”
The premier said that Israel has increased the number of tests for the coronavirus, which now stands on 5,000 and will increase to 10,000. The procurement of medical equipment is tasked to a dedicated war room under the administration of Mossad [Israeli intelligence agency] Chief Yossi Cohen in cooperation with other agencies.
Looking ahead, Netanyahu said that though he cannot say when the coronavirus crisis will end, there is already a government effort to prepare for the day after.
“History will look back at this time and learn from our conduct, how to handle challenges of this magnitude. We are writing a new chapter in history,” Netanyahu said.
The prime minister said an economic aid package will be revealed in a matter of days to help people and businesses survive.
“We will help you,” Netanyahu said, “Our economy is strong, and we have the resources.”
Netanyahu said a unity government is vital at this time and once again appealed publicly to Blue & White party leader Benny Gantz to join him and form an emergency coalition government.
The prime minister did not refer to the refusal of outgoing Knesset [Parliament] Speaker Yuli Edelstein to allow the Knesset to vote on his replacement, thus disobeying a High Court ruling.
President Reuven Rivlin also addressed the nation yesterday, and he too urged full compliance with the government’s measures, saying they will save lives.
“We must obey and do what is asked of us. I appeal to you, my fellow Israeli citizens: our lives depend on it, our lives depend on it,” Rivlin said.
The president then turned to discuss Edelstein’s refusal to comply with the High Court’s ruling.
“It is the duty of every one of us to obey the courts’ ruling and it is inconceivable that anyone would not do so,” Rivlin said.
Rivlin also called for the leaders of Israel’s two major parties to find the path to unity in these troubled times.
Posted on March 26, 2020
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