Significant drop in military ops in the West Bank due to the coronavirus

Lone soldiers to get financial help to help reduce financial stress caused by the virus.

IDF soldiers during a West Bank drill  (photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)
IDF soldiers during a West Bank drill
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)
Israeli security forces have significantly reduced the number of operations in the West Bank because of the continued spread of the deadly coronavirus, The Jerusalem Post has learnt.
Since the outbreak of the virus in Israel last month, IDF soldiers as well as border police officers have reduced the number of non-critical missions in Palestinian villages, choosing to defer non-critical operations.
While military operations against terrorists planning to carry out attacks against Israeli soldiers or civilians are still occurring, operations such as raids to confiscate terror funds have been deferred.
The Post has also learnt that lone soldiers and reservists will be receiving financial help for the Passover holiday from the IDF in order to reduce the economic pressures caused by the coronavirus.
According to forms sent out by the IDF’s Manpower Directorate, lone soldiers will automatically receive NIS 600 by April 7th instead of NIS 400 which lone soldiers received for the holiday last year.
In addition, the military will also give NIS 500-1200 to soldiers from low-income families.
Lone soldiers will also receive a food package for the Passover holiday delivered to their apartments and lone soldiers whose rental contracts end before the end of May will be automatically extended until May 31rst.
IDF reservists will also receive their annual bonus one month early.
On Wednesday Defense Minister Naftali Bennett once again called for the responsibility in the fight against coronavirus to be transferred to Israel’s defense establishment, saying that the Health Ministry does not have the logistical capabilities to fully stop the spread of the virus.
"The logistical management of the crisis has to be transferred from the Health Ministry to the security system," Bennett said during his daily press conference on the fight against the virus. "We will not be able to bring the economy back on track if the responsibility for carrying out the emergency protocols is not transferred immediately to the Defense Ministry."
And amid fears that the number of patients needing respiratory assistance may exceed the number of respirators available, Bennett said that he “found out that 1000 Israeli ventilators which are in warehouses are being sold to other countries and not Israel  because of bureaucracy which says we don't want them. That’s unacceptable.”
Also, on Wednesday dozens of soldiers at several bases around the country including Tel Hashomer, Tzrifin and Nitzanim were seen going against Health Ministry regulations, crowding in cafeterias and other indoor locations.
In a picture that was circulated widely on social media,a large number of soldiers can be seen sitting together in the same hall, much closer than the regulated two meters.  In the report  IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi found the breach to be a “very serious incident” and called on the military to further strengthen its adherence to the guidelines.
Bennett said that since the military is the largest institution in the country there would be isolated cases of troops breaking the guidelines. Nevertheless, Kochavi is treating the violations with “the utmost severity.”
The number of individuals diagnosed with the virus jumped to over 5,591 cases by Wednesday afternoon, the largest single-day jump yet in new cases. According to the Health Ministry, while the large majority of cases are mild, 97 people are in serious condition with 76 of them on ventilators. While 226 Israelis have made a full recovery from the virus, 21 people have died.
There are 84 IDF soldiers confirmed to have the virus and two have recovered. Another 2,870 are in quarantine including  Kochavi and Maj.-Gen. Aaron Haliva, the IDF’s operations division head and Maj.-Gen. Tamir Yadai, the Home Front Command commander.
The military said on Wednesday that while Kochavi’s coronavirus test was negative, he will remain in quarantine until the end of the week after coming into contact with a confirmed patient. Yadai and Haliva’s tests have still not been returned.
Meanwhile, in the Palestinian Health Ministry announced that 15 new cases of the virus had been confirmed in the West Bank and another 12 had been detected in the Gaza Strip, bringing the total number of Palestinians with coronavirus to 134.
According to reports, 9 of the 15 new West Bank cases had been working in a chicken factory in the settlement of Atarot.
With Israeli officials considering requiring all those who leave their homes to wear face masks, the Ministry of Defense announced Wednesday 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 Israel Ministry of Defense and the Sion factory located in Sderot, is 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 Ministry of Defense, 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 Ministry of Health, 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.