Coronavirus: Home Front Command to expand efforts in Jerusalem

Additional four to six quarantine hotels to be opened; 60 tons of medical equipment from China land in Israel

Soldiers of Israel's Home Front Command deliver food parcels to Bnei Brak, currently under coronavirus lockdown, April 5, 2020 (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
Soldiers of Israel's Home Front Command deliver food parcels to Bnei Brak, currently under coronavirus lockdown, April 5, 2020
The IDF’s Home Front Command is preparing to increase efforts in Jerusalem following the coronavirus restrictions imposed on the country’s capital, with help from hundreds of more troops.
“Jerusalem is a strong and functioning municipality, and we are partnering with it to provide essential services to city residents,” said the head of the Home Front Command Maj.-Gen. Tamir Yadai.
The two battalions worth of troops from the Nahal Brigade’s Reconnaissance Battalion and the Home Front Command's Search and Rescue Brigade will provide food products and other essential goods to the elderly and sick in the city.
The Home Front Command has mapped the city with targeted information on at-risk populations and troops will work to expand the evacuation of the sick to state-run quarantine hotels in the city as well as to increase the number of coronavirus tests in coordination with Magen David Adom rescue services as well as educate and inform residents about the virus.
According to Yadai, in addition to the troops who will be deployed to Jerusalem the military’s effort in the fight to curb the spread of the deadly virus and to help Israeli civilians affected by it include six logistical battalions, the 98th Paratroopers Division with 14 battalions and two battalions from the Home Front Command.
While Jerusalem and Bnei Brak are the only two cities in Israel currently designated as “red” on the military’s red-yellow-green scale-from the most to least affected-there are another 10 municipalities that may be added.
“We are preparing to support additional municipalities,” Yadai said.
He explained to reporters that while combat troops are currently assisting in the operation instead of calling up reservists the possibility of using up the additional two battalions from the Home Front Command or calling up reserves is being considered.
Troops are also working in 360 nursing homes across the country and have distributed about half a million pre-packaged meals to 120,000 people in Bnei Brak and Jerusalem.
Yadai told reporters that troops continue to distribute food and other essential goods to Israel throughout the country “from south to north” including in Arab localities and neighborhoods, including east Jerusalem.
But unlike in the larger cities where there is more demand for the assistance, troops bring the packages to specific locations in the cities and neighborhoods where volunteers come to pick them up and deliver them to the homes of the needy.
Yadai also told reporters that four-six additional quarantine facilities will likely be opened after emergency regulations requiring that all people landing in Israel from abroad enter state-run quarantine hotels was approved by the government.
While there are few remaining flights to Israel, two flights – one from the Belarusian capital of Minsk and one from Ethiopia – landed over the past 24 hours. All passengers were checked for fevers and other symptoms of the virus as soon as they disembarked from the planes. They were then immediately driven to Jerusalem’s Gold Hotel and the Sea of Galilee Hotel in Migdal.
Taking to Twitter, Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said that the new procedure has been implemented and has gone “smoothly.”
“We have operated the new procedure for arrivals from overseas. Yesterday at 10:50 p.m. a plane landed in Israel from Minsk. The passengers were taken to a hotel. Everything went smoothly,” Bennett says.
A 747 jumbo jet carrying 60 tons of medical equipment including millions of protective masks also landed in Israel from China on Monday morning.
The CAL cargo plane was the first of five planes set to land in Israel over the next few days bringing personal protective equipment for the fight against the deadly coronavirus. It carried some 12 million masks as well as medical equipment procured from Sion Medical from its factories in China.
The Sderot-based Sion Medical is a manufacturer and supplier of surgical dressings, medical textiles, sterile solutions, medical textiles and other disposable products for hospitals and other medical centers.
Two week ago the Defense Ministry announced that it signed an agreement with Sion Medical to purchase 35 million face masks and hundreds of thousands of uniforms for medical personnel.
The agreement between the Directorate of Production and Procurement (DOPP), at the Defense Ministry and company was signed in order to minimize Israel’s dependence on imports, both in the short term and in the long run.
According to the ministry, “a unique machine was brought to Israel with the assistance of the Defense Ministry, in order to enable Sion to open the production line for advanced masks. The machine is the only one of its kind in Israel.”
Sion is set to provide some 30 million surgical masks to the Health Ministry, of which 11 million will be available by the end of April, in addition to approximately 5.5 million N95 masks. Sion will also produce hundreds of thousands of waterproof overalls and protective gear for medical teams.