Police ask A-G to green light probe of Gila Gamliel after corona violation

Gamliel found herself in hot water after violating lockdown restrictions by traveling some 150 kilometers from her Tel Aviv home to Tiberias.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R)) and Gila Gamliel (L) at a weekly cabinet meeting, March 10th, 2019 (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R)) and Gila Gamliel (L) at a weekly cabinet meeting, March 10th, 2019
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The police moved closer on Tuesday to requesting formal approval to interrogate Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel for allegedly violating multiple coronavirus-related laws.
Only Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit has the authority to allow a probe of a minister to go forward.
While on Monday night, a Justice Ministry spokesman said they had not yet received such a request, on Tuesday, the spokesman said that discussion of the issue was progressing. It was unclear whether there would be a decision within a few days or whether it might drag out a week or more.
Channel 13 reported that it was unlikely Mandelblit would authorize a probe against a cabinet minister in a case with too many gray areas and doubts. The channel also reported that Gamliel came to the Knesset for a key vote last Tuesday, after she may have contracted COVID-19 and told her colleagues she did not feel well.
Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said the force was looking into the incident and examining what took place over the holiday period, including her movements, where she traveled and with whom she met.
Gamliel admitted on Monday to violating limitations on movement during the lockdown. The more severe allegations relate to whether she actively misled the Health Ministry to further violate quarantine restrictions.
The difference in violations is that some only carry a fine as a penalty whereas others could carry several years in jail for lying to the Health Ministry and actively promoting the virus.
A poll on Channel 12 news found that 76% of the public believes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should fire Gamliel, 17% say not to fire her, and 7% don’t know.
Science and Technology Minister Izhar Shay became the first minister in the cabinet to call upon Gamliel to resign on Tuesday.
Gamliel found herself in hot water after violating coronavirus lockdown restrictions by traveling 150 km. from her Tel Aviv home to Tiberias for Yom Kippur, before testing positive for the virus. She prayed at a synagogue in the city run by her father-in-law, where 20 people have been diagnosed with the virus in recent days.
The minister reportedly attempted to hide the violation from the Health Ministry earlier during her epidemiological investigation, avoiding the ministry for hours and then saying that she caught the virus from her driver.
Gamliel has acknowledged wrongdoing and said she would pay a NIS 5,000 fine, but she is not expected to resign or be fired by Netanyahu.
“If things are as they are, they are very problematic,” Shay told KAN Radio. “I expect the minister to take responsibility for herself and quit and not wait for someone to tell her what to do.”
Coronavirus commissioner Prof. Ronni Gamzu expressed “disappointment” that Gamliel broke the Health Ministry’s regulations. He said that “an elected official should understand how this damages public trust.”
He added that “the public expect to see that [its leaders] are doing what is asked of it.”
Gamzu would not comment on whether Gamliel should step down. He acknowledged that she had apologized for what she did wrong.
“I do not choose for ministers what steps to take before the public,” he concluded.
On Tuesday night, Yamina leader MK Naftali Bennett released a statement, apologizing for his son's violation of coronavirus restrictions, after reports by Israeli media indicated that his son had invited his girlfriend over during Yom Kippur. 
According to a statement from Bennett's office, Bennett and his wife were not made aware of the visit and did not approve it. Nevertheless, they took responsibility and had a conversation with their son as to prevent similar mistakes in the future. 

Maayan Hoffman and Tobias Siegal contributed to this report.