Some 170 lone soldiers are staying at an IDF resort facility in Givat Olga, a coastal town in the North. It has been transformed into a coronavirus quarantine facility for military personnel.
The facility opened last week and houses lone soldiers who need a place to stay during their 14-day quarantine, Maj. Hila Karmon told The Jerusalem Post.
Since the coronavirus outbreak in Israel last month, thousands of Israelis have self-isolated at home for 14 days after returning from overseas or being exposed to the virus. There were 4,156 soldiers in isolation at last count.
The facility is being run by various army branches and Aguda Lema’an Hachayal, the Soldier’s Welfare Association, Karmon said.
“The army is giving them a place to stay,” she said. “Every soldier has his or her own room that has whatever they need to make their time comfortable, including TV, Playstation and games, as well as workout materials such as yoga mats.”
Soldiers are not allowed to leave their rooms. They are given three meals a day, which are left outside their door. Several soldiers have celebrated their birthdays while at the facility, “and so we sang them happy birthday from the other side of the door,” Karmon said.
“We are trying to provide them with everything they need,” she said. “At the end of the day they are all alone in their room,” most of which have a view of the sea.
Officers at the facility are given a number of soldiers to be responsible for and entertain them by playing guitar outside their windows or “balcony bingo” games with them, Karmon told the Post. There are also daily zoom calls and a WhatsApp group so all quarantined troops can remain in contact with their comrades, she said.
Their commanders call them every day “to check up on them and support them if there are any soldiers who are lonely,” Karmon said, adding that the majority of those in the center have no family in the country to help them.
“The biggest challenge for commanders is to provide a home for these lone soldiers during such a complicated period, to give them a home that not only provides the essentials such as food, but to give them a feeling that they are not alone,” she said. “This is a period of time where they can feel extremely lonely.”
None of the soldiers there have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, but they are being tested if they develop any symptoms, Karmon said.