Despite the Israel Defence Forces introducing a number of measures aimed at keeping the disease in check, the virus contines to spread across the military’s facilities. As of Wednesday, over 1,300 soldiers had tested positive for the virus. Some 9,881 others are in quarantine.
Israel’s coronavirus czar, Ronny Gamzo, who was appointed to tackle the raging pandemic, said on Tuesday that the lockdown imposed on the nation has been “effective” but he couldn’t determine whether the measures taken were an indication that the number of positive cases was declining.
So far, more than 1,800 Israelis have died from the virus, and nearly 900 patients are in critical condition due to the virus. Over 4,117 people were diagnosed with COVID-19 on Thursday.
IDF to the Rescue
The Jewish state has thrown in everything it can in an attempt to curb the spread of the disease and expanded the Israel Defence Forces’ (IDF) involvement in handling the disease.
Defining it as a “top priority mission”, the IDF Medical Corps has begun establishing two COVID-19 wards at the Rambam Medical Centre in Haifa, northern Israel, in a bid to reinforce the existing units.
The army has also staffed the wards with their medical personnel, enabling hospitals to accomodate more patients.
COVID-19 Challenges IDF
But the problem is that the IDF, just like the rest of Israel, has also been challenged by the virus.
On Monday, the military announced that 1,343 servicemen had been diagnosed with COVID-19. Nearly 10,000 are in quarantine.
Long before it reached current levels, the IDF introduced a number of measures to tackle the crisis.
In June, for example, soldiers were prohibited from travelling abroad and those, who were allowed to do so, needed to quarantine themselves upon arrival in Israel.
In addition, gatherings in closed and open spaces couldn’t exceed 50 and 100 people respectively. Soldiers were prohibited to use trains and were limited in the use of public transport believed to be the hub of the pandemic.
And now as disease levels continue to increase at an alarming rate, the IDF has once again tightened restrictions, banning soldiers from leaving their bases for a period of at least a month and moving entire units to work in capsules in order to minimise interaction between its servicemen and employees.
That, however, hasn’t kept the disease at bay. On Tuesday, Israel’s Channel 13 reported that more than a hundred soldiers had tested positive for the virus, the largest outbreak at a single IDF facility to date.
The reasons for the spike can partially be explained by soldiers still getting to see their families, where they can be exposed to the virus, and partly because of the lack of discipline within the IDF.
One Israeli news website Walla even revealed that despite the capsule system being in place, many breach the restrictions, meet up, and interact as if COVID-19 was not a threat.
Walla also disclosed that many don’t bother to maintain social distancing and some, who were required to quarantine themselves, chose not to do so.
Lack of discipline is a problem across the country, not just the IDF. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus in late February, the Israeli media has documented dozens of incidents, showing Israelis gathering at parties, attending funerals and weddings or simply rejecting to wear masks, all despite the restrictions in place.
Now, with the disease at alarming levels, the government is theatening to handle all those who dare breach restrictions with an iron fist, but it’s still unclear how painful that blow will be and whether it will be severe enough to deter those who’ve already become used to disobeying the rules.