Armed troops to be deployed to Bnei Brak to help coronavirus efforts

12,000 IDF troops taking part in military's operation against the deadly virus; Bennett visits Bnei Brak; two troops from Ir HaBadim diagnosed with virus

Israeli Magen David Adom medical team members transfer an Israeli man, suspected of being Covid-19 positive, in the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish city of Bnei Brak, March 31, 2020. (photo credit: GILI YAARI/FLASH90)
Israeli Magen David Adom medical team members transfer an Israeli man, suspected of being Covid-19 positive, in the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish city of Bnei Brak, March 31, 2020.
(photo credit: GILI YAARI/FLASH90)
With Israel struggling to contain the outbreak of the coronavirus in the ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak, armed troops from the IDF’s Paratrooper Brigade will soon be deployed to Bnei Brak to work with the Homefront Command.
Speaking to reporters, IDF Spokesperson Brig.-Gen. Hidai Zilberman said that the troops will have personal protective equipment like the police and will help the Homefront Command with logistics, evacuating the sick, and giving out food to at-risk populations,  
The move comes as the healthcare provider Maccabi estimated that  38% of residents of Bnei Brak have the deadly disease, making it the city with the highest infection rate in the country.
According to Zilberman, the troops will be a significant increase in the role of the IDF to the country’s fight against the pandemic. There are some 12,000 IDF soldiers and 3,000 vehicles taking part.
The number of individuals diagnosed with the virus in Israel jumped to over 6,221 cases by Thursday morning and another 33 people have died.
There are 115 IDF soldiers confirmed to have the virus, 13 have recovered and another 3,073 are in quarantine including IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi and Maj.-Gen. Aaron Haliva, the IDF’s operations division head and Maj.-Gen. Tamir Yadai, the Home Front Command commander.
While Kochavi has tested negative for the virus, several members of the General Staff will be tested in the coming days. According to Zilberman, since the opening of the military’s coronavirus laboratory, over 400 tests have been carried out.
On Thursday morning, two IDF soldiers at the Ir HaBadim military base in southern Israel were diagnosed with the coronavirus, sending dozens of troops stationed with them into quarantine.
According to a report by Israel’s Channel 13, after the two female soldiers were found to have the virus another 50 troops serving with them will enter quarantine for the coming two weeks.
Located near the southern town of Yeruham, thousands of troops are stationed at Ir Habadim, a collection of different training complexes from the various IDF units, including the Manpower Directorate and Medical Corps.
As the number of Israelis infected with the virus continued to grow, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced new guidelines on Thursday including a semi-lockdown on Bnei Brak.
Defense Minister Naftali Bennett nevertheless visited the city and met with Maj.-Gen. (res.) Roni Numa who is in charge of preventing the continued spread of the virus in the city and held a video conference with the city’s mayor Abraham Rubenstein. The defense minister also visited several grocery stores in the city which until recently saw residents flout the strict guidelines imposed by the Health Ministry.
With financial pressure growing due to the coronavirus crisis, Yesh Atid MK Ofer Shelach has put forth a bill to Knesset calling for the coronavirus to be added as a reason for newly released IDF troops to be able to use their military deposit.
Shelach, who chairs the Knesset committee monitoring the coronavirus crisis, proposed the bill which would release a sum of up to NIS 10,000 from the discharge deposit soldiers receive upon completing their military service.
IDF troops receive both a release grant and deposit from the military when they are released. But while the release grant can be used for anything, the deposit is kept in a separate account and can only be used to pay for tuition, buy a house, open a business, or get married.
The bill put forth by Shelach and approved by the Defense Ministry would allow troops to use money from the deposit to help with their finances until the end of the current year as soldiers released from the military are not included in the government’s economic plan.