IDF postponing combat support enlistment due to coronavirus

This week's enlistment to go forward

Health Ministry inspectors speak with a woman who is in self quarantine as a precaution against coronavirus spread in Hadera, Israel March 16, 2020 (photo credit: REUTERS/RONEN ZEVULUN)
Health Ministry inspectors speak with a woman who is in self quarantine as a precaution against coronavirus spread in Hadera, Israel March 16, 2020
The IDF will be postponing the enlistment of several combat support units due to the continued spread of the coronavirus in Israel.
IDF Spokesperson Brig.-Gen. Hidai Zilberman told reporters on Monday that while the upcoming drafts this week will not be postponed, the IDF will be delaying the recruitment of several combat support units as well as those drafting into the submarines and naval officer’s course.
Also on Monday, Defense Minister Naftali Bennett announced that all regional authorities will decide if  individuals who have tested positive for the virus will be taken to quarantine facilities set up across the country or if they can safely self-quarantine at home without putting their families at risk.
“There is a difference between a single person living alone and a large family living in the same apartment,”  Bennett said during a daily press conference updating the public on the virus in Israel.
The defense ministry has opened six quarantine facilities in hotels across the country, in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa and in the south, holding some 1,000 Israelis. More quarantine facilities are continuing to be opened, including two facilities specifically for the Haredi population.
Lt.-Col.(res.) Shlomi Dror, who is in charge of the quarantine facility in Tel Aviv told The Jerusalem Post that there are 488 patients currently in the hotel and another 20 who have been discharged. While most of the patients are between the ages of 21-70 years of age, there are several babies under one year along with their mothers.
According to Dror, there are plans to take two more hotels in Tel Aviv and turn them into additional quarantine facilities.
The number of individuals diagnosed with the virus climbed to over 4,347 cases by Saturday morning. According to the Health Ministry, while the large majority of cases are mild, 80 people are in serious condition and 16 people have died. Another 134 people have now made a full recovery.
Another 62 IDF have also been diagnosed with the virus and have been transferred to the military’s quarantine treatment facility in Ashkelon. Another 2,879 soldiers are in quarantine and one soldier has recovered.
IDF troops tomorrow will begin distributing food and other necessities to the country’s elderly and others who are unable to make these purchases themselves due to the restrictions to prevent the continued spread of corona. The military will work with local governments to identify those who need assistance and will begin delivering the products.
The move, which is part of an agreement between the Prime Minister’s Office and the defense ministry, will also see one commander and four soldiers who will be assigned to each person requiring assistance.
Zilberman also told reporters that the IDF has not yet deployed troops to assist in enforcing the partial-lockdown and is waiting for Netanyahu to give the final approval on several details, including whether or not troops will be armed.
Head of the Technological and Logistics Directorate, Maj.-Gen. Yitzhak Turgeman said that the military’s large medical corps, which is prepared for emergency situations like terror attacks, now have to fight against the virus and work with the health ministry to help with the logistics including moving equipment like masks and respirators from the airport to health centers across the country.
Bennett also acknowledged reports that the defense ministry has been working with the IDF’s elite 8200 intelligence unit and the controversial spyware firm NSO to develop software which would gather all data about coronavirus patients gathered by the health ministry and Shin Bet would be entered.
The system would then map the spread of the virus through tracking the patient’s mobile data and then determine how likely any Israeli citizen is to be infected, giving both a macro and micro image of the corona epidemic in Israel.
“We are in a time of emergency and this is an excellent system,” Bennett said, adding that Prime Minister Netanyahu must approve the “Coronameter” system before it can be used.
Bennett also referred to the accusation by Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh who on Sunday accused IDF soldiers of deliberatly spreading the virus in the West Bank.
"We were exposed to testimonies that some of the (Israeli) soldiers are trying to spread the virus on car handles,” he was quoted as saying by Ynet news. "This is racism and hatred of people who long for the death of the other. We will record this in the list of crimes [against Israel]."
Calling on Shtayyeh to apologize, Bennett said the comments were “unfortunate that in the current situation, when the State of Israel is working tirelessly to assist the Palestinian Authoirty in the fight against a virus that doesn’t differentiate between Israelis and Arabs, between Jews, Christians and Muslims.”
A Jordanian citizen reportedly seeking treatment for the coronavirus was transferred back to Jordan after being detained by IDF troops on Monday after being identified by a resident of Beit Yosef after he crossed into Israel’s northern Jordan Valley. According to Kann public broadcaster, the man had crossed into Israel seeking treatment for the coronavirus.
Also on Monday, the National Emergency Team in the Directorate of Defense Research and Development (DDR&D) announced that the “Maya” Sticker, which was developed for military purposes, will upgrade face masks to protect medical staff and a pilot will begin at the Galilee Medical Center to assess the medical staff’s implementation of the new tool in the coming days.
The defense ministry said that the sticker is produced using a 3D printer and is composed of nanoscale fibers coated with disinfectants - a mechanism that enhances the capture and neutralization of nanoscale particles.