Director of Israel’s Health Ministry Submits Resignation Amid Coronavirus Crisis

Health Ministry Director General Moshe Bar Siman Tov has submitted his resignation, he said Tuesday. Bar Siman Tov has led the ministry's response to the coronavirus crisis in Israel.

Bar Simon Tov said in a letter submitted to Prime Minister and Benjamin Netanyahu and Health Minister Yaakov Litzman that he will step down when the new government is sworn in, which is scheduled to take place on Thursday. He added that he was willing to remain in the role for a transition period if necessary.

>> For the latest updates on coronavirus in Israel, click here

"I am proud of my years as the director, and specifically dealing with the coronavirus crisis," he said. "I will remain for the necessary transition period to pass the torch in an organized manner, and wish the next health minister and director-general luck."

In his letter of resignation, Bar Siman Tov praised the country's response to the coronavirus outbreak, but also warned against complacency. "We must not take these accomplishments for granted," he wrote. "The work is not yet finished. Israel bought previous time to prepare for a possible second wave of the virus, and the health system is overburdened even in normal times. We must take advantage of this period to continue and improve preparing and strengthening the [healthcare] system for the challenges to come."

Moshe Bar Siman Tov at the Prime Minister’s Office. Ohad Zwigenberg

Bar Siman Tov, 44, entered the role in July 2015 after serving in several roles in the Finance Ministry, where he dealt partly with budgets for the healthcare system. He was tapped for his current role by Litzman, and was the first Health Ministry director general who was not a doctor. The Israel Medical Association opposed his appointment, going so far as to petition the High Court of Justice.

One complaint that came up repeatedly from sources throughout his tenure as that he was not sufficiently attentive to the needs of the ministry's professional experts, and was not open to dialogue or criticism. Sources alleged that his management style was to surround himself with professionals who conformed to his positions. A 2018 investigative report by Haaretz yielded several claims of problems in the ministry: interpersonal tensions and harassment, an uncomfortable atmosphere and managerial issues that they blamed on him.