Politics Overshadows Encouraging Signs in Israel’s Virus Battle
Israel welcomed its third straight day of good news Thursday as the statewide number of new coronavirus infections, positive tests rate and serious cases all continued their downward trend. Despite the encouraging news, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Wednesday rejected calls to scale back the total lockdown imposed by the government three weeks ago, warning the country was hardly out of the woods yet. Netanyahu was also forced to battle some friendly fire, after his own party member, Finance Minister Israel Katz, railed against “mistaken” government policies that would condemn millions to poverty. The prime minister accused the prominent Likud member of trying to score political points at the expense of public health. Late Wednesday evening, the government managed to extend by another week the emergency decree passed last week, which severely limits protests and demonstrations. Because of the measure’s relatively draconian restrictions, it is slated to automatically expire every seven days unless expressly renewed by the government, and is anyway limited to a total of 50 days.