Civil Service Commission clears nomination of new Health Ministry director

Appointment of Chezy Levy, who will take over for Moshe Bar Siman-Tov amid uptick in COVID-19 cases, now awaits approval of government

Chezy Levy, CEO and medical director of Barzilai Hospital, Ashkelon. (YouTube screenshot)
Chezy Levy, CEO and medical director of Barzilai Hospital, Ashkelon. (YouTube screenshot)

The Civil Service Commission on Friday signed off on Health Minister Yuli Edelstein’s candidate for the next director-general of the ministry.

Prof. Chezy Levy’s appointment now needs final approval from the government before he can take up the post.

He will replace Moshe Bar Siman-Tov, who led government efforts in coordinating the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Levy, 64, has served as director of Ashkelon’s Barzilai Medical Center since 2012. Before that, he was a brigadier general in the Israel Defense Forces, where he served as chief medical officer until 2007. A veteran of the First Lebanon War, he headed or participated in IDF humanitarian missions to Kosovo, Zaire, Kenya, Macedonia, Turkey and Rwanda.

He later went on to serve as a senior official in the Health Ministry before becoming Barzilai’s director, during which time he was responsible for the development and construction of the hospital’s bombproof underground emergency room and surgical wards.

Levy faced claims in recent days of alleged conflicts of interest during his tenure at Barzilai relating to suspected improprieties in the hospital’s soliciting of donations, but continued to enjoy the support of top health officials.

His assumption of the post will come amid a recent jump in new coronavirus cases, after the daily infection rate had steadily dropped.

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein( (R) and ministry director-general Moshe Bar Siman-Tov are seen during a press conference at the Health Ministry in Jerusalem on May 31, 2020. (Flash90)

Levy’s predecessor Bar Siman-Tov was one of the most prominent figures leading Israel’s response to COVID-19, frequently giving media interviews and appearing alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during televised statements to announce new government directives.

As the Health Ministry’s top bureaucrat, Bar Siman-Tov was responsible for leading many of the tough early steps to restrict Israel’s public life, and was initially credited for spearheading the country’s efficient response that prevented mass infection. Litzman was largely absent from public view throughout the crisis and also contracted the virus.

Bar Siman-Tov, an economist, was the first non-doctor to lead the Health Ministry.

He announced his resignation last month shortly before Edelstein’s appointment.

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