Amid fears of the new Omicron COVID variant, Israel’s government on Tuesday approved the resumption of the controversial Shin Bet phone tracking program to identify suspected carriers of the variant.
The bill still has to be approved by a Knesset vote.
During a discussion of the bill in the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday, Deputy Attorney-General Raz Nizri said that although the tracking is “a very problematic and complex legal issue,” an exception is being made in order to save lives.
Additionally, unlike the prior coronavirus waves in Israel, when Shin Bet tracking was used to track all COVID carriers, it will now only be used to track Omicron carriers.
Four ministers, Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar, Education Minister Shasha-Biton, Economy Minister Orna Barbivai, and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Eli Avidar, voted against the measure due to concerns about the invasion of Israelis’ privacy as well as skepticism about the current urgency to use it despite the small amount of Omicron carriers in the country.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)