PM Netanyahu's bold moves in fighting the virus are seen by some as more than self-serving.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was supposed to be facing trial last week on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

Instead, he was shutting down the courts and ordering Israel's internal security service to identify people who should be quarantined, using data harvested from their phones.

Both of these extraordinary moves, announced in the dead of the night one recent Sunday and Tuesday, were made in the name of combating the coronavirus. The court shutdown also had the effect of delaying Mr. Netanyahu's trial by two months.

Many Israeli's have expressed admiration for the celerity and aggressiveness of Mr. Netanyahu's response to the pandemic :
Israel was ahead of the curve in shutting down travel to hot spots, ordering new arrivals into quarantines and closing down the public schools. The country has reported 433 cases of the coronavirus, but no deaths.

But others re asking whether Mr. Netanyahu who is battling to keep his job after three inconclusive elections, is exploiting the health crisis for self-serving ends. And whether, as he moves to protect the nation's health, he may also be endangering its democracy.

Mr. Netanyahu insisted he was protecting the nation while adhering to democratic values, noting that the court shutdown was temporary and that he had received the permission of the attorney general for the cellphone data usage, which was valid for 14 days.

''Israel is a democracy,'' he said Monday. ''We have to maintain the balance between the rights of the individual and needs of general society, and we are going that.''

But critics questioned whether closing the court was a necessary response to the coronavirus and whether the infringements on privacy by monitoring cellphones could have long-term consequences.

''Democracies don't die in one day,'' said Susie Navid, a professor of parliamentary and constitutional law. in Rishon Letzion. Israel.
''As you can see in Europe, they can decline and erode, bit by bit, and you don't really feel it.''

''It's like a smoke bomb,'' she said. ''You don't see very clearly and then things change quickly, without you taking notice.''

All over, democratic nations are struggling to act quickly enough to contend with fast-moving biological threat.

The honor and serving of the latest global operational research on coronavirus and responses, continues. The World Students Society thanks authors, David M. Halbfinger and Isabel Kershner 


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