Israel's health system entered the Covid-19 pandemic with the developed world's most overcrowded hospitals, a relatively small and aging healthcare workforce, and mortality rates from infectious diseases far higher than in every other developed country. These opening conditions mandated a nationwide lockdown quickly after the pandemic reached Israel, which in turn led to a near eradication of the virus within the country by the end of May. Instead of utilizing this opportunity to implement policies in preparation for future waves, while gradually opening the economy, the government developed no strategic plan for the future. Significantly compounding the situation, the prime minister broadly announced that it was then possible for the public to resume its normal activities. Almost immediately thereafter, the second, considerably deadlier, virus wave began, with almost twice as many deaths in August alone as in the entire first wave, while Israel plunged into the worst recession in its history.
Extensive governmental dysfunction and a complete lack of leadership led to often contradictory – and completely ineffectual – patchwork policies costing huge amounts of public money. The policy disarray at the top led to considerably less compliance among the Israeli public, particularly in ultra-Orthodox and Arab-Israeli communities who lead the list of most infected municipalities. Only after nearly five months into the pandemic did the government appoint a person to coordinate its policies for combating the virus. Within days, cabinet ministers and other leading politicians from the governing coalition began to undercut his authority and call for his firing.