Appeal from Naftali Bennett, Prime Minister of Israel, August 14, 2021:
I would like to share with you our national plan to fight the Delta wave that is engulfing the world.
I will explain here about the outbreak of the Delta strain around the world and in Israel, what our plan is to lead Israel to safe shores, what the actions of the government are, what your responsibility as citizens is, and above all, what our goal is.
Our goal is simple: To safeguard the health of the citizens of Israel and the economic future of the State of Israel.
Safeguarding the livelihoods of the citizens of Israel is also safeguarding their lives.
To act to moderate the morbidity – to accelerate the campaign for the third inoculation and, with your help, to beat the corona pandemic.
We will do everything to avoid lockdowns, which – to livelihoods, the economy and the education of our children – are destructive tools. Lockdowns are only a last resort.
It would be very easy to declare a lockdown and give money to the closed businesses and the workers sitting at home.
But the policy of lockdowns has a terrible price.
One consideration that we have is the lowering of morbidity and the reduction of mortality. But, of course, there are other considerations including Israeli citizens' livelihoods, the education of Israeli children and safeguarding the economic future of Israel.
For example, we thought about the people killed in traffic accidents. It would be possible to reduce to zero the number of fatalities from traffic accidents by banning travel on Israel's highways. But we all understand that we have to live and allow traffic in Israel.
Thus it is with the Delta strain: Daily routine is part of life and we must find a responsible balance between all the needs.
It is important for me to emphasize something:
The price tag for the three previous lockdowns, was NIS 200 billion.
That is 200,000,000,000.
This is NIS 200,000 x one million.
This is our money, yours, and our children's and great-grand children's.
If we continue with the policy of lockdowns and economically destructive restrictions, we will simply collapse economically.
The immense amount that we spent on lockdowns, the effectiveness of which was low in any case, is a sum that was taken from important goals for you and for your children.
How many soldiers' lives would be lost, Heaven forbid, is we could not allow ourselves to equip them with innovative APCs with advanced protection because we wasted the money on lockdowns?
How many children and older people would we not be able to send to life-saving operations?
How many MRI machines would we not be able to finance and thus we would miss thousands of cancer patients at early stages?
How many lessons in science, mathematics or English would we be unable to finance?
How many old-age pensions for elderly without means would we be unable to provide?
Think for a moment: Every family in Israel is NIS 105,000 in debt due to the price tag of the three lockdowns.
Each one of us and our children will need to pay back this debt through taxes and reduced services over decades to come.
I am trying with all my power to stop this hemorrhaging.
Lockdowns have a direct cost in human lives.
It is asked: 'In any case, aren't you knowingly allowing hundreds of people to die from the coronavirus?'
We, the Government of Israel, are taking care to provide every citizen of appropriate age with a vaccine.
We are the only country in which vaccines are available for everyone and the only one in which there is a third dose, a booster. This is not a given and it is possible thanks to our hard work.
For your part, you must watch out for your lives and those of your loved ones. Get vaccinated. There are many places available where you can get vaccinated. Wear masks in closed places and reduce gatherings. This is not always simple but it is essential.
Over 90% of severe cases are people over 60.
Take special care of yourselves and take care to get vaccinated.
With our steps, the government, and your responsibility – we will win.
The Delta wave began before my government was formed. The strain had already penetrated into Israel in March, April and May.
We are taking responsibility and are now implementing important steps that have not been carried out up until now:
1. We are inoculating millions of older people with a third dose.
At this moment, the State of Israel is the only country that is giving its citizens the possibility of receiving a third dose.
We secured approval of the medical experts.
We saw to the stocks of the vaccines.
We saw to it that the HMOs would be able to act and they are doing extraordinary work.
2. We are strengthening the hospitals with more positions for doctors and nurses, and the HMOs and the entire health system after many years in which these critical parts of the system were neglected.
3. We are closely safeguarding the vulnerable elderly in retirement homes and geriatric hospitals.
4. We opened the private market to rapid tests and the sale of home tests. I hope that we will see hundreds of thousands of tests a day during the pandemic, which will allow us to quarantine cases and break the chains of infection.
5. The Public Security Ministry has increased enforcement of wearing masks, upholding the Green Pass and maintaining quarantine.
6. We are preparing a way for holding classes in schools during the coronavirus.
7. We have, for the first time, enacted the Green Pass, financed by the state, for ages 3-12. This means more tests, discovering more people who are carrying the Delta strain, and fewer infections.
We are currently managing the pandemic wisely and sagaciously.
When will this end?
I don’t know.
I certainly cannot indicate a date.
While difficult days are yet before us, I am certain that if we act according to the plan, and if the citizens of Israel wear masks, get vaccinated as soon as it is available for them, and in general, if we act with solidarity and mutual assistance, we will overcome the Delta strain.
I accept the criticism with understanding.
My job is to do what needs to be done and not that which is easily done. To lock down the country – that is very easy.
But what is right is to turn over every stone so that the citizens of Israel will be healthy, so that the State of Israel will remain open, to safeguard the citizens of Israel physically, emotionally and economically, to not take away their daily bread and lose their livelihoods – and to make the right decisions to these ends.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett."