Newly installed Health Minister Yuli Edelstein on Wednesday announced his intention to appoint the director of Ashkelon’s Barzilai Medical Center to the post of Health Ministry director-general, pending cabinet approval.
Prof. Chezy Levy will replace Moshe Bar Siman-Tov, who led government efforts in coordinating the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic. He announced his resignation earlier this month after the new minister was appointed.
Levy, 64, is a retired 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.
In a statement, the ministry praised Levy for his “extensive experience in emergency medicine,” which it described as one of the factors that led to his selection.
“At such a time, with the need to prepare for the second wave of the coronavirus and to make the health system Israel’s top priority, Prof. Chezy Levy is the right person for the job,” Edelstein said.
Former health minister Yaakov Litzman also welcomed Levy’s appointment, praising his “abilities and experience” and asserting that his appointment would be “for the benefit of the health system and citizens of Israel, especially at this time.”
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.