Likud Minister Broke Lockdown; Calls for Her Resignation/Dismissal

Far-right Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel, who announced over the weekend that she had been infected with the coronavirus, faced calls for her dismissal or resignation Monday, October 5, after confessing that last week she broke a lockdown limit by traveling from her Tel Aviv home to the northern city of Tiberias.

Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Photo: Gamliel’s Facebook page)

She also reportedly tried to hide the trip from a Health Ministry epidemiological investigation into her infection. Gamliel spent the Yom Kippur fast, which fell last Sunday-Monday, at a synagogue in Tiberias, where her father-in-law is rabbi, Zo Haderech the new Communist Hebrew-language daily updated website reported.

According to Channel 12, Gamliel denied lying to the Health Ministry investigators and said she told them of her travel to Tiberias and expressed the belief that she had contracted the virus from her driver. The Walla news site quoted participants in the Yom Kippur service as saying there had been 35 people in the building, about half its maximum capacity, 20 of them are now coronavirus positive.

Epidemiological investigators were unable to contact Gamliel for several hours, Ynet news site reported. Police said Gamliel, like all citizens, was required to remain in her own home that is recorded on her identity card.

Critics have said Gamliel’s conduct as a cabinet member is incompatible with expectations that the public adhere to lockdown restrictions. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was waiting for investigators to uncover the “full picture” before drawing conclusions on the conduct of Gamliel, a senior member of his Likud party.

However, the Movement for a Quality Government lobby group called on Gamliel to resign immediately. “At a time when the public is expected to obey the strict orders, it is unacceptable for an elected official to just disdain them,” the group said in a statement. “We are at the height of a crisis of confidence between the public and politicians and this violation exacerbates the already-serious situation.” The epidemiological probe “is not a privilege; it is a requirement of every citizen who is infected,” the statement said. “To knowingly lie in a such a probe, allegedly, is a serious blow to public order.” The movement also called upon Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit to open a criminal inquiry into Gamliel’s behavior.

On Sunday, October 4, Joint List party leader MK Ayman Odeh (Hadash) revealed he has tested positive for coronavirus. Odeh, made the announcement on Facebook. “This morning I had a fever, I did a test and the result came back positive,” Odeh wrote. “Everyone I have been in contact with should follow the instructions. I will enter self-isolation and ask everyone to take the virus seriously.” “Apart from a slight fever I feel fine and I will continue to work for the public while in isolation,” Odeh said. “I urge everyone to be more careful. The virus is real, dangerous, and contagious.” A statement from Hadash said that Odeh is suffering from mild symptoms and is feeling well.