Health Ministry might penalize Netanyahu aides who violated quarantine

Social media adviser Topaz Luk and foreign affairs adviser Reuven Azar, senior aides to the prime minister, broke quarantine rules over the weekend.

Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Donald Trump in the Oval Office, as Sara Netanyahu and Jared Kushner look on. September 15, 2020 (photo credit: Lahav Harkov)
Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Donald Trump in the Oval Office, as Sara Netanyahu and Jared Kushner look on. September 15, 2020
(photo credit: Lahav Harkov)
The Health Ministry may pursue penalties against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s advisers who were spotted in populated areas when they were supposed to be in quarantine, a ministry source told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.
Protesters outside the Prime Minister’s Residence on Balfour Street in Jerusalem on Saturday night spotted and filmed Netanyahu’s social-media adviser, Topaz Luk, observing and taking photos of the demonstrations.
In addition, Netanyahu’s foreign-affairs adviser, Reuven Azar, went to a supermarket in Mevaseret Zion on Friday morning. He also went jogging in Washington on Monday in violation of the coronavirus capsule rules.
The penalty for violating quarantine is NIS 5,000.
Azar underwent an inquiry and said he did not notice the message from the Health Ministry before leaving his home on Friday, the Prime Minister’s Office said. The message went out more than 24 hours before he violated the rules.
“Azar’s superiors called him so that such cases would not recur,” the Prime Minister’s Office said.
During Monday’s cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said: “Coronavirus can’t be transferred by people gathering for a demonstration?... Of course it can. Now, suddenly, everyone woke up about one person. And it is clear that everyone who violated quarantine must be fined. There cannot be selective enforcement.”
When Netanyahu signed  peace agreements with the UAE and Bahrain last week in Washington, everyone in the prime minister’s delegation was supposed to remain in a “capsule” without close contact with anyone else and while wearing masks.
However, some violated the rules live on television. The images of the ceremony showed that it was very crowded, although there was a distant, cordoned-off area for the Israelis on the White House South Lawn.
The Health Ministry decided to send the entire delegation to quarantine upon arrival in Israel. The 120 members of the delegation underwent COVID-19 tests on Sunday night and Monday morning, and only when all are determined to not have the virus can they leave.
The delegations' coronavirus tests came back negative, and its members permitted to leave isolation on Monday evening.
The Movement for Quality Government called for Netanyahu’s aides to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
“When people from Netanyahu’s office violate quarantine, and to begin with they’re given preferred treatment that has no basis, when the prime minister ignores it and calls the protesters ‘disease-spreaders’ – we are in a deep leadership crisis,” the movement said in a statement.
Meretz leader Nitzan Horowitz submitted a parliamentary question to Public Security Minister Amir Ohana to ask why the police had not detained or fined Luk and Azar and whether the Prime Minister’s Office asked Ohana to intervene on their behalf.
He accused Netanyahu’s advisers of “knowingly endangering public health.”