There has been a decrease in hostile enemy activity targeting Israel due to the continued spread of the coronavirus, IDF Spokesperson Brig.-Gen. Hidai Zilberman said Monday.
Speaking to reporters by phone, Zilberman said the spread of the virus has affected Israel’s enemies, who have decreased their hostile activities to focus on containing it.
While he did not refer to Iran by name, the spokesman said “there are enemy countries that have been hit much stronger than us by corona and therefore their activities have decreased.”
Iran is one of the countries being hit the hardest, with hundreds of deaths reported due to the virus, including several senior government officials.
At least 1,300 Iranians have died in the coronavirus outbreak and at least 32,000 Iranians have been admitted to hospitals due to the virus as of Monday, according to Radio Farda. These numbers are based largely on clinical evidence, including symptoms, rather than on final confirmation by coronavirus tests, and the number of deaths could be more than 2,000 according to some Iranian health officials.
The official numbers from Iran stand at 853 dead and 14,991 infected as of Monday. Iranian officials have been accused of underreporting the number of infections and deaths since the outbreak began.
As the outbreak spreads through the Middle East, areas of eastern Syria have begun reporting multiple cases of COVID-19 among the Iranian and Iraqi nationals serving in Iranian-backed militias in the area.
In Deir Ezzor, near the Iraqi border, six infections were reported at one of the hospitals in al-Mayadeen, according to Deir Ezzor 24, a local news source. Four of the infected were Iraqi. The other two were Iranian.
On Friday, Abeer Mohammed Al-Salem, a woman from Deir Ezzor, died due to COVID-19. Deir Ezzor 24 confirmed that Iranian militia members have died due to the virus as well.
The Assad regime has not officially reported any cases of the coronavirus.
Despite the fact that Iran has been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak, movement within the Islamic Republic and between Iran and Syria remains largely open. Iranian militia members entering the area are reportedly not being tested before entry.
Iranian-backed militias and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps operate bases in the Deir Ezzor area, including the large Imam Ali military base, located near a strategic border crossing between Iraq and Syria.
Sources in the area told Deir Ezzor 24 that several leaders and officers in Assad's forces in Deir Ezzor have ordered their soldiers to not shake hands or mingle with any member of the IRGC and to avoid entering their headquarters.
On Monday, more than 300 families crossed from areas on the western side of the Euphrates River controlled by the Assad regime and Iranian and Russian forces to areas on the eastern side of the Euphrates controlled by the international coalition and the SDF without being tested for coronavirus infections. Crossings over the river remain open, and there are not sufficient medical services to deal with a potential outbreak in the area.