Coronavirus: Israeli PM Netanyahu’s aides allegedly break quarantine after US visit

An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man walks outside Jerusalem's Old City after Israel entered a second nationwide lockdown on September 20, 2020. (File photo: AP)

Two of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s senior aides broke quarantine regulations after returning from an official visit to Washington last week, Israeli media reported Monday.

The breaches of health regulations by senior officials — which came as the country entered its second nationwide lockdown — were the latest cases of Israeli leaders and officials not abiding by the rules they have set for the public to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The Israeli delegation landed in Tel Aviv on Wednesday and was required to quarantine for a minimum of five days following last week’s ceremony at the White House normalizing ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

President Donald Trump confirmed Wednesday that a White House staffer tested positive for the coronavirus following the ceremony.

President Donald Trump, center, with from left, Bahrain Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan on the South Lawn of the White House, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020, in Washington. (AP)

President Donald Trump, center, with from left, Bahrain Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan on the South Lawn of the White House, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020, in Washington. (AP)

Reuven Azar, a national security aide who has been closely involved in managing the coronavirus crisis, visited a supermarket in a Jerusalem suburb on Friday despite the mandated quarantine order, Israeli media reported.

Netanyahu’s office did not deny that Azar broke quarantine, but said in a statement that he claimed to have been confused by the government’s lockdown order that went into effect on Friday.

In a statement, it said Azar was reprimanded “so that cases like this aren’t repeated.”

But days before, Azar reportedly left his Washington D.C. hotel to go for a run, in violation of the office’s own regulations for the trip.

Meanwhile, Topaz Luk, a social media adviser to the prime minister, was spotted filming demonstrators outside Netanyahu’s official residence Sunday night.

Netanyahu’s Likud party said Luk “came to perform a coronavirus test in Jerusalem according to the instructions he received from the Health Ministry” and returned home afterward.

The party did not respond to further questions from The Associated Press.

Israel imposed a three-week nationwide lockdown on Friday in an effort to clamp down on the spread of the disease. An exception allowing people to hold public demonstrations was included in the lockdown.

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Last Update: Monday, 21 September 2020 KSA 19:36 - GMT 16:36
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