Israel’s COVID-19 vaccination drive, like those in other Western countries, has thus far been a voluntary affair, with the government working hard to convince (some would say “coerce”) the public to get the jab. But this week, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett reportedly suggested going a step further and effectively mandating vaccination against the coronavirus.
Bennett’s office released a statement on Thursday noting that he had instructed officials to look into imposing greater restrictions on Israelis who are not fully vaccinated. Currently, around 65% of Israel’s population is fully vaccinated. The vaccine is now being offered to children as young as 5, but a new poll shows that most Israeli parents are not in favor at this time.
Bennett has for some time been openly frustrated by “hold-out” sectors of society that are keeping Israel from full vaccine coverage. He blames them for recurrent waves of infection.
Thursday’s press release did not specify what measures Bennett hoped to take against these Israelis, but unnamed sources who spoke to the Hebrew press said they included barring the unvaccinated from leaving the country and even imposing a lockdown on any Israeli who refuses the vaccine.
According to those same sources, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz and other health officials heatedly opposed Bennett’s proposal.
In the end, the government decided on stricter enforcement of the “Green Passport” system, with immediate fines for anyone who enters a restricted area without proper vaccine certification.