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‘Total Suspension of Individual Freedom’: Inside Israel’s Secret Coronavirus Debate

Public health services chief tells Knesset intelligence panel that Israel needs to employ a total lockdown and personal monitoring in the struggle to contain the spread of the disease

By Noa Landau and Jonathan Lis | 19 March 2020

HAARETZ — Israel’s public health services chief told an emergency meeting of lawmakers on an intelligence panel earlier this week that the key to eradicating the coronavirus pandemic relies on the enforcement of strict isolation measures, and the timing of introducing that policy.

In her remarks to the Knesset Subcommittee on Intelligence and Secret Services on Monday, concerning the Shin Bet security service’s monitoring of coronavirus patients, Sigal Sadetsky referenced the Chinese handling of COVID-19. She told the panel’s chairman, MK Gabi Ashkenazi (Kahol Lavan), that it all depends on “when you start it and how strongly you do it,” and that she believes “everyone will do the same thing.”

When MK Yoav Kish (Likud) sought to clarify whether she meant a total lockdown or curfew, Sadetsky replied: “A lockdown and personal monitoring of people, and a total halt to personal freedoms.”

Sadetsy and Moshe Bar Siman Tov, the Health Ministry’s director general, tried to persuade committee members to give the Shin Bet the go-ahead to use “special technological means” to detect where people diagnosed with the disease had been and the people they were exposed to while they were contagious, and to isolate them. […]

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