Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday compared the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines in Israel to the Japanese attack on the U.S. Pacific Fleet fleet at Pearl Harbor, calling it “one of the most exciting moments in all my years as prime minister.”
Speaking at an event celebrating Israel’s healthcare workers —which coincided with the 77th anniversary of the allied invasion of Normandy and came less than a week after Americans marked Memorial Day — Netanyahu said that when he saw the planes carrying the vaccines land at Ben-Gurion International Airport, he “felt it was more or less like when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, you knew it was the beginning of the end.”
More than 2,400 Americans lost their lives in the 1941 surprise attack, which drew the United States into the Second World War and prompted widespread fear of a Japanese attack on the American mainland. Over 6,600 Americans were killed, wounded or declared missing in action on June 6, 1944, the first day of the Normandy invasion.
Netanyahu’s comments came on the same day that Israel expanded its vaccination campaign to include teenagers aged 12-15. Also on Sunday, the Health Ministry announced that starting next Tuesday, Israelis will no longer be required to wear masks indoors.
The prime minister's latest comments come a week after he appeared to compare the United States, Israel’s closest ally, with some of Israel's worst enemies, in a speech railing against the proposed Bennett-Lapid government that appears poised to depose him.
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“What will it do for Israel's deterrence? How will we look in the eyes of our enemies,” he asked regarding the possibility of an anti-Netanyahu coalition being formed. “What will they do in Iran and in Gaza? What will they say in the halls of government in Washington?”