The Subcommittee on Intelligence, Secret Services and Captive and Missing Persons, chaired by Lt.-Gen. (res.) MK Gabi Ashkenazi (Blue and White), has approved a three-week extension of the emergency regulations permitting the Shin Bet (General Security Service) to assist in the national campaign to curb the spread of the coronavirus by tracking the cell phone activity of confirmed coronavirus cases in order to locate anyone who had been in their immediate vicinity and instruct them to go into quarantine.

The extension was granted in order to allow the government to keep the program in place while legislation to enshrine it in law is drafted.

The government had asked the subcommittee for a six-week extension of the measure, but after a detailed discussion on the issue, the subcommittee endorsed Chairman MK Ashkenazi’s proposal to extend it by only three weeks.

During the meeting, National Security Council head Meir Ben- Shabbat, who is coordinating the government’s response to the pandemic, said that despite the decline in the number of infections, continuing the tracking was essential. “Precisely at this time because the infection potential is increasing, we need a tool that will enable rapid surgical action that will cut the infection chain and allow the population to continue with its life,” he said, adding that at this stage there are no available alternatives.

“We are continuing to search for alternatives, and activating the Shin Bet for this purpose is not our first choice,” he said. “If we can find a tool to answer this need, we will certainly adopt it.”