Is Israel Prepared to Emerge from the Coronavirus Crisis?
Insights from the Institute for Policy and Strategy (IPS)
by the IPS team | April 17, 2020
26-3-20main-...
Failures that characterized management of the Coronavirus crisis cloud the ability to meet the paramount imperative of return to normalcy.
 
Parallel to this, in the long term, Israel is liable to bring down on itself a heavy national calamity if it opts for the annexation plan
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There is a growing gap between countless promises surrounding emerging from the crisis, and failures that characterize management of the crisis that cloud the ability to realize the paramount need for a return to normalcy at some future date.  
 
As long as Israel is unable to formulate and carry out a strategy for effectively dealing with the crisis, a strategy that encompasses all aspects - economic, health, employment and others - the likelihood of success is low. This is all the more so when there is no reliable intelligence picture, that is, comprehensive testing as a foundation for decision-making.

Under circumstances where lifting the lockdown is premature, requiring citizens to return again to shelter-in-place, a public credibility crisis might develop and pose difficulties in gaining the cooperation of the public.   
 
In addition, Israel is liable to bring down on itself a heavy national calamity in the long run, if it opts for the annexation plan[1] 
and takes it forward; while national security challenges, first and foremost the Iranian one, are growing. 
 
The document that follows focuses on these issues and additional strategic hotspots.
Flawed governmental function and potential for a credibility crisis
The Coronavirus crisis shows similarities to the Yom Kippur War failure.
The authorities failed to take action based on the early warnings provided by the outbreak of the epidemic in China. While at the home front - the health system and government at the local municipal level had been neglected for years. This state of affairs is reflected in official documents regarding emergency preparedness submitted to the Government on the eve of the outbreak of the epidemic. 
The Challenge:
Systematic and synchronized action of all state bodies and systems with the objective of achieving effective treatment of the challenges faced, to prevent redundancies and to create a full and detailed real-time intelligence picture for all relevant executing agencies. Optimal utilization of state resources according to changing definitions of objectives, subject to guidelines set by one central management agent. This kind of conduct seems trivial, but it has not characterized the actions of the Government, and without such, there will be no solution. 
Instead, the following weaknesses were glaringly apparent:
> Mixed signals as to when the lockdown will be lifted and promises of economic and employment-related solutions that are incompatible with realities;
> Refrain from full and optimal activation of the defense establishment and the IDF who are trained - unlike the Ministry of Health -  in addressing emergency situations from all aspects.
> Above all, the tragedy on both a national level and on a moral plane in safeguarding the elderly and senior living facilities. The elderly, founding generations of the country, have been abandoned without sufficient relief - health wise, in material terms and from an emotional-moral standpoint. 
Policy Recommendations:
Creating an emergency system that will assign specific missions to the various agencies and their taskforces. The defense establishment, the IDF and the Home Front Command will manage the conflict in all of its aspects through the tremendous resources at its disposal; the Ministry of Health will be the agency providing professional medical guidance; the Israeli Police Force will be responsible for enforcement within its authority, according to instructions.
 
The entire emergency system will be managed by a small-scale ‘Coronavirus cabinet’ that will strictly maintain transparency of information. Decisions of the cabinet will be based on a dramatic increase in the scope of testing, because this is parallel to intelligence necessary to wage the war. Acquisition of the means needed will be concentrated in the hands of a professional agent skilled in such a task.
  
In addition, a national setup for hasbara and spokespersonship needs to be established to maintain ongoing contact with the public. The hasbara network will present realistic and timely updates on the situation, with full transparency towards the public, in a manner that will prevent over-expectations. Clear communication with the public - down to the individual level, constitutes a significant factor in the success of coming out of the crisis.
 
An immediate focused emergency plan will be formulated to deal with the elderly and senior housing facilities that will address all aspects of their needs. It is totally unacceptable that elderly persons isolated and cut off from their families, will be left to die in their homes and eldercare facilities.