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Israeli Prime Minister Naftali BennettLev Yeden/Shutterstock

JERUSALEM (LifeSiteNews) — Israeli officials are once again performing a u-turn on COVID restrictions, as Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced February 17 that the restrictive COVID “Green Pass” for access to public venues will no longer be used as of March 1. 

Following a meeting with public health officials, including Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, Bennett announced that Israel’s Green Pass mandate would expire on March 1 and not be renewed, although certain testing requirements would remain, along with mask mandates.

“We were the first country to close its gates in the Omicron wave; therefore, this is also the time for a gradual relaxation,” declared Bennett, who assumed office last summer. “The wave is breaking. We are seeing a decline in the number of severely ill.”

At the moment, Israel’s Green Pass is mandatory for entering public venues and events. It is available for those who have received the required full dose of vaccines — currently two or three doses of a COVID injection — and for people who have recovered from a COVID infection. Bennett’s government already announced it would remove the Green Pass COVID vaccine passport for restaurants, hotels, gyms, and theaters, as of February 6. The policy remained in effect for events such as parties or weddings.

While the remaining Green Pass mandate for large venues and events is now set to be dropped as of March 1, Bennett said that testing would still be required for access to retirement homes. 

The Times of Israel notes that mask mandates in closed spaces and schools are also expected to remain in place, under advice from the Israeli Health Ministry. School children have to test for COVID-19 twice a week in order to attend classes.

Full details are yet to be announced, but if Bennett acts in line with the Healthy Ministry’s latest “advice,” then unvaccinated Israelis over the age of 12 could still be barred from entering the country, despite predicted easing of testing requirements before air travel.  

While the removal of the Green Pass mandate is a welcome sign of a reversal of restrictions, Bennett still warned that the country needed to “learn the lessons where necessary from managing this wave so we will be better prepared for future scenarios.” 

Indeed, while the Green Pass mandate is now set to expire within a fortnight, it is not the first time that such an announcement has been made. 

Back in summer 2021 similar headlines were seen as the Green Pass mandate expired in June 2021, after having been in use since February that year. At that time, mask mandates were also kept in force in “enclosed spaces,” just as they look set to be under the newly announced easing of restrictions. 

The system was described in March 2021 as a “pre-holocaust agenda,” and creating “a medical Apartheid.”

Only in December, Bennett compared the unvaccinated with machine gun-wielding killers, and Israeli actress and singer Avital Livny observed how under Bennett’s leadership Israel had become a country where “people are afraid to come out with a different opinion.”

Some weeks previously, Bennett pressurized a teenage girl, the daughter of one of his friends, to take a COVID injection on live television. Livny told LifeSiteNews at the time that the televised event was a PR stunt.

“The prime minister is going crazy in an effort to make people vaccinate their children, since the vaccination of children is not going as expected,” she said. “The majority of children are not going to get the vaccine, so this is part of the propaganda that they’re trying to do.”

Israel has led the world with its high vaccination numbers, yet has also led the world in COVID infections. On January 20, Israel reached the milestone of having the most COVID cases per capita. The country is also the first to administer second boosters, and fourth overall doses, to those over age sixty.

In response to the country’s harsh restrictions and inspired by Canada’s Freedom Convoy, thousands of Israelis have converged upon Jerusalem in trucks and vehicles, in a move to demand freedom from the state-imposed COVID regulations. 

The protestors stated they would remain until the coronavirus law is repealed and the restrictions are removed.

“Many Israelis are waking up and finally being vocal about wanting to get back to a normal where government is not running our lives or our medical information can once again be private, when there’s no more coercion of medical procedures,” Avi Abelow of Pulse of Israel and Israel Unwired told CBN News.

“Stop coercion. Stop the green vaccine passports. People want to go back to normal,” Abelow added. “Stop having children wear masks in schools. Stop having to force children to do tests in order to get into schools.”