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COVID-19 Is a Plague on Both Israeli Lawmakers and Military
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaks at a situational assessment on the coronavirus at the Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv on July 16, 2021. (Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)

COVID-19 Is a Plague on Both Israeli Lawmakers and Military

The coronavirus has become a plague on both the coalition government and the opposition in Israel, with at least 30 government ministers and lawmakers, in addition to Knesset staff members, contracting COVID-19 in recent days. Defense Minister Benny Gantz went into quarantine Sunday after a member of his staff tested positive for the virus. Gantz, who had his fourth vaccine shot last week, tested negative on a rapid antigen test but is waiting for the results of a PCR test. Meanwhile, four members of the opposition – Haim Katz and Etti Atiya of the Likud party, Yoav Ben-Tzur of Shas, and Yisrael Eichler of United Torah Judaism – tested positive for the virus over the weekend. Opposition Leader Binyamin Netanyahu spent over an hour on Wednesday afternoon in a meeting with Katz in Netanyahu’s office in the Knesset, but both were wearing masks, according to reports. Deputy Foreign Minister Idan Roll and Blue and White lawmaker Michael Biton both tested positive last week. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett went into quarantine two weeks ago after his teenage daughter was diagnosed with the coronavirus. Bennett never contracted the virus; he was forced to leave his quarantine in order to participate in person from behind a partition in the visitors gallery in a Knesset session to debate legislation after 40 opposition lawmakers signed a demand that he show up to take part in the session. Meanwhile, the Israel Defense Forces has been hit with a significant rise in cases of the coronavirus, with the number of cases quadrupling to nearly 2,000 in the last week, with another 4,000 soldiers, officers and civilian employees of the military being sent into quarantine because of exposure to the very contagious virus. The military over the weekend returned to a capsule system, under which units are divided into pods with no contact between them, in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus through an entire unit.

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