Israeli Health Minister Yuli Edelstein on Wednesday urged the public to refrain from large family gatherings during the upcoming High Holidays, which begin on Sept. 18.

During a press briefing at the inauguration ceremony of the ministry’s new Coronavirus Control Center at Airport City in Lod, Edelstein said: “Despite the understanding for the needs of many people, this year our responsibility is not to gather in large groups around the family holiday table.”

“If we all act responsibly and obey Health Ministry guidelines, I am confident that we can overcome the unknown and emerge victorious without damaging the delicate fabric of life in Israel, the needs of society and the economy,” said the health minister.

Israeli coronavirus project coordinator Ronni Gamzu, who also spoke at the briefing, rebuffed criticism of his handling of the pandemic by politicians, among them coalition chairman Miki Zohar, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party.

“It’s not certain that all politicians and MKs understand what we are doing here and what path we have taken,” he said.

“The whole world is now saying ‘maybe we’ll manage [the second wave] without closures.’ But this comes with a price; it’s complex,” he added.

The inauguration of the new Coronavirus Control Center coincided with a Health Ministry report on Wednesday that the new daily number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Israel has again reached approximately 2,000.

According to Health Ministry data, as of Wednesday afternoon, Israel recorded 107,341 confirmed coronavirus cases, among them 20,581 active ones, with 855 patients hospitalized—430 in serious condition, 161 in moderate condition and 118 on ventilators. The national death toll stood of 867.

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