Israel Katz's daughter: 'He's not locking Israel down on my birthday'

Israel Katz and Benny Gantz opposed a full lockdown, with Gantz suggesting a weekday curfew or a weekend lockdown instead.

Foreign Minister Israel Katz attends a cabinet meeting, December 2019. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Foreign Minister Israel Katz attends a cabinet meeting, December 2019.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Adi Katz, the daughter of Finance Minister Israel Katz (Likud), "joked" on Instagram that Israel did not go into full lockdown because of her birthday, N12 reported Friday night.

"He is not locking down my country on my birthday weekend," Katz, who turned 30 this week, wrote on her Instagram story, attaching a picture of herself and her dad standing with balloons at a park. According to the minister's spokesperson, the event was "limited" and took place at the Katzs' home on Thursday afternoon.

The photo shortly went viral, after which the finance minister's daughter took it down, turning her Instagram account private, making those who do not follow her unable to see her photos.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly said Israel was coming closer to a full lockdown at a special cabinet meeting over additional coronavirus-related restrictions that went on from late Thursday to early Friday, according to Ynet.

Katz and Alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz reportedly opposed a full lockdown, with Gantz suggesting a weekday curfew or a weekend lockdown instead, the media outlet reported.

"Are you blind? We will not have a partial lockdown because we will have a full lockdown!" Netanyahu told the cabinet.

The cabinet eventually approved a more lenient list of restrictions (all of which can be found here), while not imposing a full-fledged lockdown as of early Saturday morning. While non-essential businesses will be closed on the weekends, Israelis are not limited to a particular distance from their places of residence.

Israeli officials have been criticized over the last several months for allegedly not following restrictions put out by the government amid the COVID-19 crisis. Transportation Minister Miri Regev (Likud) publicly violated the restrictions last week, N12 reported.

"Here, too, we are not exactly within the restrictions put out by the Health Ministry," Regev said last Tuesday at the opening ceremony of a large freeway interchange near the southern city of Ashkelon.

The ceremony should have been "more limited," the transportation minister said. "It is true that we are in an open area, but we should have less people" at the ceremony. Regev vowed to "make sure these things happen as we require" in future events.

"There is no other way, we have to follow the Health Ministry's instructions."

In June, senior Health Ministry officials called on deputy director-general Itamar Grotto to resign from his position following a report that he granted a quarantine exemption to Cypriot-Israeli tycoon Teddy Sagi.

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein summoned Grotto for a disciplinary hearing, vowing to "examine the issue with all disciplinary measures at his disposal," the Health Ministry's spokesperson said.

"Especially at a time when there are great efforts to explain the importance of keeping the recommendations to the public and when we call for hardening their enforcement, there simply cannot be quarantine exemptions that would put the public at risk," Edelstein said.

"This is a severe violation of public trust and a serious mistake in professional discretion," he added. "In such cases, I will not act leniently."

Edelstein himself was criticized last week after participating in his wife's birthday party attended by dozens of invitees right after announcing new coronavirus-related restrictions at a press conference, according to Kan.

While not breaking the law as the newly-announced restrictions were not yet in force, the participants were required to sign confidentiality agreements. "I was very conflicted about having this event," Edelstein's wife, Irina Nevzlin, said.

"I sent all the invitees an email, clarifying that we will follow the restrictions," she said. "I decided to have the event [as long as] people follow all requirements – masks, thermometers, no people in at-risk groups," she added.

"The event was held outside and we kept the distance between the participants." Some 48 people participated in the event, according to its organizers.