Then-Health Minister Litzman Says He Was Not Involved in Coronavirus Decision-making

Yaakov Litzman says that recommendations were made under the purview of senior bureaucrats who reported to Prime Minister Netanyahu and then-director general of the Health Ministry, Moshe Bar Siman Tov

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Haaretz
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Former Health Minister Yaakov Litzman at a ministerial exchange ceremony at the Construction and Housing Ministry, Jerusalem, May 18, 2020
Former Health Minister Yaakov Litzman at a ministerial exchange ceremony at the Construction and Housing Ministry, Jerusalem, May 18, 2020Credit: Emil Salman
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Haaretz

Former Health Minister Yaakov Litzman did not fully participate in the decision-making process concerning the coronavirus outbreak, he told Kan Bet radio in an interview on Tuesday morning.

“Here and there they updated me,” said Litzman when asked if the professional staff in his ministry were the ones who made recommendations to fight the pandemic, which they then took to the National Security Council and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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“There are professionals who meet, and after that they check all sorts of things, and that’s it," Litzman said of the process. "They talk to the National Security Council, talk to the prime minister. Sometimes even with the health minister.”

Litzman said that a number of times during cabinet meetings he dismissed predictions that 10,000 Israelis were expected to die of COVID-19, saying “it won’t happen, this is foolishness and nonsense.” He added that he made the remarks in the presence of Netanyahu and the director general of the Health Ministry, Moshe Bar Siman Tov. He went on to say that reality proved him right, adding that “the prime minister saved the country and I thank him for that, but there are things I didn’t agree with.”

On Sunday, Litzman said the government had “panicked” in response to the coronavirus, and that Netanyahu had responded to fears cultivated by Bar Siman Tov. He said that he, Litzman, had yelled during the cabinet meeting in question that there wouldn’t be 10,000 deaths, calling the figure an "exaggeration,” but Netanyahu chose to listen to Bar Siman Tov, he told Kan Bet.

Litzman said he can’t complain too much because in the end, the situation is excellent. “We mourn for every soul that was lost, but in total 250 people died.”

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