Israel Watchdog Blames Netanyahu for Nation Being Unprepared for More COVID Waves

Israel's government watchdog blamed former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the nation's unpreparedness for more waves of coronavirus infections following the first wave in early 2020, the Associated Press reported.

State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman's report found "failings in the process of making decisions and executing them," adding that the government and its advisory COVID-19 cabinet failed to properly supervise choices made by Netanyahu, the AP said. The former prime minister ended his 12-year term after Israel's fourth consecutive parliamentary elections, on March 23.

"This criticism is more relevant than ever and raised significant shortcomings," Englman, who was appointed by Netanyahu, wrote in his report. "We are currently in a fourth wave and there is importance in fixing shortcomings immediately."

On Tuesday, Israel surpassed its single-day record of new coronavirus cases. The new figure was nearly 11,000, according to the country's Health Ministry.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Israel's Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
In a new report, Israel's government watchdog strongly criticizes former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the country's lack of preparation for more waves of coronavirus infections. Above, Netanyahu attends a special session of the Knesset to vote on a new government on June 13. Emmanuel Dunand/AFP via Getty Images

Englman's report found a failure to implement safety restrictions. It also said Netanyahu's administration did not properly address the pandemic's impact on education, the economy and social welfare until June, three months after it began.

Netanyahu had touted his government's effective handling of the COVID-19 pandemic on the campaign trail. In particular, he focused on his success in obtaining vaccines to make Israel one of the first countries to inoculate its population.

Now head of the opposition, Netanyahu has vocally criticized his successor—Naftali Bennett—for his handling of the fourth wave of virus infections, which has rocked the country in the past month.

Bennett's government, made up of a wide spectrum of parties united in their opposition to Netanyahu, took office on June 13.

Englman's report did not examine the actions of the new government, but he said its lessons should be learned.

Israel is experiencing a surge in coronavirus infections despite its world-leading vaccination drive earlier this year. It has recorded 7,043 deaths from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. Nearly 60 percent of its population of 9.3 million has received two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, and the country has already distributed more than 2 million booster shots over the past month.

The report also found major faults in the government's policies concerning arrivals at Israel's main international airport. It said that sending 96 percent of people entering the country into home quarantine was highly ineffective at halting the arrival of new infections due to poor enforcement and a lack of adherence to the rules.

COVID-19 Ward in Jerusalem
A medical worker pulls patient medication in the COVID-19 ward at Jerusalem's Shaare Zedek Medical Center on Tuesday. Maya Alleruzzo/AP Photo