Defense Ministry, IDF assigned to assist operations in nursing homes

The move comes after Home Front Command said on Saturday night that it will not be accepting responsibility for working with nursing homes.

Nursing Home for Anusi Mashhad, Herzliya (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Nursing Home for Anusi Mashhad, Herzliya
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
The Prime Minister's Office announced on Sunday morning that it has entrusted the Defense Ministry and the IDF's Home Front Command to assist the Health Ministry in operational aspects of nursing homes in the fight against the novel coronavirus.
The move comes after Home Front Command said on Saturday night that it will not be accepting responsibility for working with nursing homes.
"They belong to the Welfare and Health ministries," said Home Front Command Commander, Brig.-Gen. Itzik Bar to Ynet on Saturday. "We do not have nurses... I do not know how to manage a nursing home."
Nursing homes are under a particular threat, as the elderly community is more at risk from COVID-19 than any other age group. Dozens of nursing home occupants have been infected so far, with at least 10 dead and additional patients in serious condition.
Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar Siman Tov had said that he wished the Home Front Command would take part in trying to control the spread of the virus in such institutions, but Bar made it clear that such a thing was not going to happen.
Tenants of nursing homes, as well as their families, have insisted that the homes be inspected. Tests, however, have been limited in such closed communities.
"What's been happening in nursing homes is simply a scandal and an abandonment of the weak," said Labor MK Itzik Shmuli on Saturday night. "Instead of clear management and the elimination of the danger in the most sensitive place, responsibility is being thrown around, for which the price will be human lives.
"This is the weakest group at the highest risk," Shmuli continued. "I intend to present this in the Knesset immediately. We must transfer responsibility for massive testing of the elderly and the staff, and the evacuation of institutions if necessary, as a cooperation of the Home Front Command and the Welfare Ministry."
He further threatened that if this is not enacted immediately, Bnei Brak, an ultra-Orthodox community with the most rampant spread of the virus, will be just the beginning.

Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman contributed to this report.