Israeli soldiers take on humanitarian role, deliver food to needy during national lockdown

Israeli soldiers have been called up for a new task: to help implement restrictions implemented by the government in an effort to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus in the country.

“It’s a different mission from our regular ones, but officers and troops are very motivated,” a senior military officer said.

With Israel’s borders the quietest they’ve been in years, soldiers from Homefront Command and the Paratroopers Brigade have begun delivering thousands of tons of food to the elderly, disabled and needy leading up to the Passover holiday.

The soldiers are focusing on the ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak which has been home to one of the worst breakouts of the virus in all of Israel. They will provide food and help evacuate the sick if needed as part of “Operation Laser Beam.” Some 30 residents were already evacuated as of Tuesday.

The IDF officer said that more than 15,000 hot meals have been delivered already to the elderly in Bnei Brak and people with disabilities who are unable to leave their apartments and to families who receive welfare support.

Bnei Brak was turned into a “restricted” city after 1,000 residents tested positive for the coronavirus. Residents are only allowed to leave under specific circumstances. The Ultra-Orthodox city did not embrace the social distancing rules that most of the nation did. Part of the reason is that they distrust the government. Others of said, because of their strict lifestyle, not watching TV, they did not know how drastic the situation was. Some think there might be up to 75,000 infected with Covid-19, but it is impossible to test them all.

The Defense Ministry will also airlift emergency medical supplies that just arrived in Israel on Monday to hospitals around the country. The shipment included face masks and ventilators plus another 20 tons of medical equipment including 900,000 surgical masks, half a million protective suits and more.

photo credit: COGAT SPOKESPERSON’S OFFICE

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