Minister of Intelligence Eli Cohen came to embattled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s defense on Tuesday, pointing out the number of lives that have been saved by his COVID-19 policies.
Israel’s leader is increasingly under fire over his failure to stop a second wave of the virus and the economic restrictions he has felt obliged to reimpose. The public’s disapproval is reflected in sinking poll numbers.
However, Cohen says that the critics are missing the bigger picture. “The government’s policy spared us 4,500 dead,” Cohen told Israel’s Channel 13.
“When we look at countries of similar size, we’re talking about 5,000 deaths,” Cohen said. “Every person is a whole world. The government’s and prime minister’s policy is what led to,” the low death rate.
Ever since the virus resurfaced, Netanyahu found himself blamed for the unhappy result. Unlike the first wave, which saw Israelis more willing to follow the government’s instructions, this time the administration has seen pushback as it attempts to impose curfews and bring back restrictions.