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  Israel’s health minister has the coronavirus. He’s also under fire for allegedly defying his own department’s orders.
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Last EditedIndyGeorgia  Apr 10, 2020 07:08pm
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AuthorSam Sokol
News DateTuesday, April 7, 2020 04:00:00 PM UTC0:0
DescriptionBEIT SHEMESH, Israel (JTA) — Just hours after Israeli Health Minister Yaakov Litzman tested positive last week for the novel coronavirus, technicians arrived at his Jerusalem residence to deliver a smartphone and install computer equipment.

An adherent of the Ger Hasidic sect, the 71-year-old Litzman normally eschews the use of the internet at home, but special arrangements were required after his diagnosis sent him and his entire senior staff into self-isolation.

In different times, the special arrangements might be seen as underscoring Litzman’s role as a trailblazing haredi Orthodox politician — he was the first in his political faction to assume a full Cabinet position — and a testament to Israel’s complex societal makeup. But the current crisis has served to stoke haredi-secular tensions, with Litzman — fairly or not — serving as a flashpoint.

The news of Litzman’s diagnosis sent shockwaves across Israel because it meant that not only was the nation’s top health official running his department from home during a pandemic that has killed more than 54,000 globally (and at least 60 locally), but that the entire senior echelon of Israel’s government had to go home as well. Following Litzman’s diagnosis, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mossad Director Yossi Cohen, National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat and Hadassah Hospital CEO Zeev Rothstein all went into quarantine since they all had met with the health minister in recent days.

Litzman found himself the target of widespread anger following reports in the Hebrew press claiming that he had contracted the virus after attending an illicit prayer gathering of the sort that had been banned recently by his ministry, with one unidentified Cabinet member claiming that he had “put all of our lives in danger,” The Times of Israel reported.
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