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Another Top Israeli Health Official Quits at Critical Time

Prof. Itamar Grotto, deputy director-general of Israel’s Health Ministry, announced his resignation late Sunday evening, becoming the latest in a slew of government officials to quit in the midst of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Grotto cited the intensity of the past year and his desire to spend more time with his family, but also noted that differences of opinion among government agencies and between technocrats and politicians had taken their toll. Israel’s so-called coronavirus czar, Prof. Ronni Gamzu, who was designated to be the face of overall government coronavirus policy, last month announced he was stepping down. His frustration over infighting was well-known. The Health Ministry’s director-general and head of public health services both quit in the past few months, as have several top-ranking officials in the Finance Ministry, which has been a key player in pandemic policy. Their departure leaves the health and finance wings of the government with fewer experienced personnel to battle a widely expected third wave of infections and its financial fallout. On Sunday, the country continued its gradual reopening following a second lockdown, although test positivity rates reached 2.5% after a week of hovering at close to 2%.