Did Israel's Interior Minister just call the coronavirus a 'fake disaster'?
Was Ayelet Shaked's post on Twitter a simple mistake or a case of "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks?"
When Israel's interior minister tweeted today, "We've defeated the fake COVID disaster" – implying that perhaps she believes the pandemic to be trumped up – was her post a simple mistake, as she later claimed, or a case of "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks?"
Ayelet Shaked immediately deleted the tweet, but not before it caught the attention of the Israeli press.
"We've defeated the fake COVID disaster," she wrote. "Reality will defeat the next fake disaster as well."
Shaked, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's No. 2 in the Yamina party, is no stranger to controversial statements especially during the pandemic. She was accused of being callous when she said this summer that Israel must "accept" a certain amount of deaths during the pandemic.
But earlier this year, she also agreed with Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz who was caught on a hot mic saying that the Green Passport had no medical justification.
Shaked said something similar to a Channel 12 reporter in the spring. Before the latest elections, she also said if elected she would designate cities according to infection rates, sealing off “red” cities with police or military and “throwing into jail” anyone who tried to leave.
Her disparate comments, ranging from denial of the pandemic to favoring strict governmental controls, throw into question what Shaked's true beliefs are regarding COVID.
After today's tweet, Shaked scrambled to do damage control.
She quickly posted this instead: "For all those who rushed to jump [to conclusions], I'm refining the wording. The coronavirus is raging in Europe. Thanks to the prime minister's quick decision to give the booster early and proper management of the system, the prophecies of doom in Israel have not come true. There are still many more who have not received the booster – it's really worth getting it now."
She further clarified later: "Coronavirus is not fake. As a partner in managing the COVID crisis, I was at the forefront of advocacy, pushing for early vaccinations and also in schools, for early application of the green passport. One cannot suspect that my intention was different. The intention was solely about the prophecies of doom that predicted the collapse of the health care system, which did not happen thanks to the proper management of the epidemic."
Knesset Member David Bitan who fell ill with a serious case of COVID several months ago posted a tweet with a photo of himself in the hospital.
"Believe me Ayelet, it's not fake," he wrote.
Nicole Jansezian was the news editor and senior correspondent for ALL ISRAEL NEWS.