Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked is facing widespread criticism for her seemingly casual remarks on Tuesday night about fatalities caused by the pandemic.
Shaked’s remarks come amid mounting criticism against the Bennett-Lapid government for their handling of the pandemic amid the soaring rise of cases and fatalities in recent weeks, with coaliton members saying that “we have to learn how to live alongside the pandemic.”
In an interview with Channel 13 News, Shaked attempted to justify the government’s policy. “We made a decision to live alongside the coronavirus,” she said. “We have to know how to accept seriously ill patients as well as deaths. It’s a pandemic and people die during pandemics.” Shaked’s words are true of course as there have been almost 100 fatalities since the beginning of August versus only seven in the whole month of June, but her explanation seemed quite callous.
Her remarks spurred a storm of outrage, especially since many have already accused the government of mismanaging the coronavirus crisis. Additionally, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett repeatedly slammed Netanyahu when he was heading the coronavirus response and even wrote a book about how to conquer a pandemic within five weeks, something he sorely regrets as it is now being thrown in his face over and over.
“The job of government leaders is to save lives, not to explain their deaths,” UTJ chairman Moshe Gafni said in response to Shaked’s remarks. “Life and death are in the hand of the tongue.”
Likud MK Galit Distal-Atbaryan slammed Shaked from the Knesset plenum, saying: “She wants you to accept fatalities, who could be your Saba or Savta, your mother or father, or a 30-year-old or teenager, so she can continue being a minister and Naftali Bennett the prime minister. This wasn’t just a slip of the tongue.”
“This morning, a Yediot Achranot reporter said that doctors and heads of hospital departments are calling him and telling him that they can’t sleep at night because a collapse is imminent,” she added.
In the wake of the criticism, Shaked issued a clarification on Wednesday, saying: “I want to clarify – every niftar is a world unto itself and human life is a supreme value. My intention was to explain the price of the continuous battle with the pandemic. It would have been better if I would have worded it differently. I reiterate that everyone should go get vaccinated – it saves lives.”
Below is a video mocking the current dismal coronavirus situation in light of Bennett’s remarks about Netanyahu’s management of the pandemic during the previous government and the book he penned.
ישראל לא הייתה צריכה להגיע לכישלון הזה. מחדל בנט עולה בחיי אדם. pic.twitter.com/KS7YzqrfVO
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) August 11, 2021
Below is a video of Bennett’s now-infamous speech during Netanyahu’s term as prime minister, slamming the government’s management of the pandemic, yelling: “People are dying, it’s pikuach nefesh!”
אַל יִתְהַלֵּל חָכָם בְּחָכְמָתוֹ, אַל יִתְהַלֵּל הַגִּבּוֹר בִּגְבוּרָתוֹ, ואַל יִתְהַלֵּל עָשִׁיר בְּעָשְׁרוֹ
— יענקי פרבר | Yanki Farber (@yankihebrew) August 11, 2021
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)