Oct 17, 2021

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Health Ministry officials were agitated on Tuesday by Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s criticism of Israeli health officials while on his trip to the United Nations in New York the previous day.

During a press conference with Israeli reporters while in New York City for the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, Bennett blasted health officials guiding the government on its approach to covid, regarding disagreements over whether or not to impose further restrictions.

Bennett made several comments criticizing officials, including a claim “they don’t see the full picture” and that they “hesitated” when he demanded explanations for their push to limit public gatherings.

During his UN speech, Bennett also said that “as doctors provide valuable input, they can’t be the ones running the country. The only one who has a sound perspective of all considerations is the national leader of any given country.”

Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz responded to Bennett’s public critique in an interview with Kan news saying it:  “was not necessary and unfortunate.” He added that he fully backed the work of the health officials — however, he concurred with Bennett that new limitations were not needed.

Health Ministry Director-General and Israel’s Covid czar Nachman Ash told Channel 12 News that he was “upset” that such critique was emphasized by Bennett at the UN rather than “the excellent dedication of medical personnel in their daily work to save lives under massive pressure.

“It is not a pleasant feeling,” he added. “We didn’t expect these types of sentiments… and I am very content with our accomplishments.”

Horowitz said that it was the medical professionals’ task to speak their opinion, and the government could then make its own decisions. “We will keep making our opinions heard,” he said.

An anonymous health official told Channel 12 that Bennett “is acting like a child and does not know how to take criticism.”

On Friday, Horowitz tweeted: “Just to be clear — Health Ministry officials are undertaking loyal and excellent work… They’re saving lives daily. Their professional recommendations are the first consideration that advises us, even if not the only consideration.”