Nadav Argaman, head of the Shin Bet internal security service, violated lockdown regulations over the Sukkot holiday by hosting members of his family that did not live in his household, according to a Tuesday report. Argaman confirmed the report on Thursday and apologized.
As head of the Shin Bet, Argaman is in charge of the controversial cellphone tracking program that the government uses to track COVID-19 contagion, monitoring citizens’ movements so that those who come into contact with carriers can be ordered into quarantine.
Kan news said Argaman hosted his daughter and his wife’s daughter, along with the latter’s partner and son — none of whom live in his home — for several hours on Saturday.
The Shin Bet responded that it “does not discuss the private life” of its head.
Police told Kan they would “look into” the report.
Before the start of the Sukkot holiday, ministers approved fines of NIS 500 ($145) for anyone caught in a sukkah not their own. The ban on visiting another person’s sukkah is set to remain in force for two days after the festival ends. Similar fines are in place for visiting others’ homes during the lockdown.
Argaman’s violation of coronavirus regulations is just the latest in a string of cases of leading Israeli officials who have disregarded the rules enforced on the general public or been accused of doing so.
Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel, who announced over the weekend that she had been infected with the coronavirus, faced calls for her dismissal or resignation Monday after confessing that last week she broke a lockdown limit by traveling from her Tel Aviv home to the northern city of Tiberias.
She also reportedly tried to hide the trip from a Health Ministry epidemiological investigation into her infection.
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid announced on Monday that MK Mickey Levy will resign from the Knesset’s Coronavirus Committee “by joint agreement” after violating the lockdown rules.
Interior Minister Aryeh Deri on Tuesday denied accusations that he also had broken virus regulations by traveling from his Jerusalem home to be in the northern city of Tiberias for the recent Yom Kippur holiday. Deri claimed that someone was spreading the false accusation among journalists.
In September, a senior adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Reuven Azar, violated the coronavirus regulations of the Prime Minister’s Office by leaving a hotel where the Israeli delegation was staying in Washington ahead of the normalization accords with Bahrain and the UAE.
Azar made headlines again upon his return to Israel after he was spotted at a supermarket in the Jerusalem suburb of Mevaseret Zion while he was supposed to be in quarantine.
In April, President Reuven Rivlin apologized to the Israeli people after it was reported that he celebrated the Passover seder with one of his daughters, despite a strict curfew on the country similar to current regulations that forbade family gatherings.
The report on Rivlin followed news that Netanyahu himself shared his festive meal with his son Avner, prompting outrage that top leaders were flouting their own rules while millions of ordinary Israelis were making sacrifices.