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IDF returning to capsule systems as coronavirus numbers continue to rise


Israeli police and soldiers guard at a roadblock in the Romema neighborhood in Jerusalem
(photo credit: NATI SHOHAT/FLASH90)

Total of 69 troops currently sick with the virus, another 3,170 servicemembers are in quarantine.


With the number of coronavirus patients in the IDF increasing significantly over the last week, the Israeli military will be stepping up its restrictions for soldiers.
IDF Spokesperson Brig.-Gen. Hidai Zilberman told reporters that due to the increased number of infections across Israel and within the IDF, troops will be returning to working in capsule systems.
Each commander will determine the best method to enforce social distancing according to each unit’s makeup and will decide which way works best in order to minimize contact between capsules. In closed units, soldiers who return from furloughs will work in a “company capsule system” for five days before returning to their battalion in order to limit exposure to a large number of people.
According to a report by KAN news, the commander of Nevatim airbase ordered all troops to return to working in capsule systems after five career officers who live on the base were found to be sick with the virus. The commander also ordered for wide-scale tests to rule out further infection of other troops on the base. Additionally, all kindergartens and other living facilities on the base were closed except for dining rooms.
Though troops will not be ordered to remain on base like they were at the beginning of the outbreak, “we want troops to be responsible,” Zilberman said. Soldiers who are on furlough will be allowed to gather and enjoy outdoors but are asked by the military to refrain from large gatherings in indoor spaces like clubs.
Troops who return from furloughs will nonetheless be required to prepare for a month’s stay at the bases should the numbers continue to increase.
The military will also enforce a combination of social distancing, personal hygiene, and the wearing of masks in order to prevent the disease from spreading in military units.
Troops will be ordered to keep a distance of two meters between each other at all times and a total of 10 people will be able to attend meetings. A maximum number of 50 troops will be able to gather in enclosed areas and a total of 100 soldiers will be allowed to gather in outdoor areas. A maximum of 100 people will be allowed into cafeterias, with exceptions allowing for a maximum of 250 people.
While the train system was reopened on Monday after three months of closure, following agreements with the Health Ministry, troops however, are not allowed to take trains in order to prevent a large number of passengers gathering in the cars. Troops will be allowed to take other forms public transportation.
Zilberman also told reporters that the IDF is continuing to run five corona facilities – two for quarantining individuals and three others for corona patients. Another facility is expected to open in the Galilee for the ultra-Orthodox population. In addition, 100 paramedics have been assigned to the Health Ministry to help carry out tests.
The Homefront Command, which has called up 130 reservists, is active in assisting the Bedouin community which has been hit hard by the second wave and has also conducted more than 1,200 training and information sessions in over 110 schools.
The number of soldiers currently sick with COVID-19 on Monday was 69. All are in light condition. Another 3,170 service members are in quarantine, compared to 350 at the beginning of June. It does not affect the military’s operational effectiveness.
Several officers on the IDF General Staff also entered quarantine, including the head of the IDF’s C4I & Cyber Defense Directorate Maj.-Gen. Lior Carmeli, Incoming Central Command head Maj-Gen. Tamir Yadai, Southern Command head Maj-Gen.Hertzi Halevi, Gaza Division Commander Brig.-Gen. Eliezer Toledano and 80th Division Commander Brig.-Gen. Gur Schriebmann.
All were released from quarantine on Monday and will return to work on Tuesday, Zilberman said
On Sunday, IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen. Eyal Zamir informed troops and commanders that due to a “significant increase in the number of individuals diagnosed with corona,” service members must adhere to a combination of social distancing, personal hygiene and the wearing of masks in order to prevent the disease from spreading in military units.
“Corona is not behind us! ‘Life in the presence of the disease’ means there will be more deadly waves [of the virus] and it is in our hands to reduce [the number of sick] and maintain the IDF’s operational competence and the health of our troops,” Zamir wrote.

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