As government emergency response plans around the globe become more militarized in efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19, with China and Iran previously being the first to call up military units to both assist in testing and quarantining suspected cases, Israel has now announced stepped-up drastic action.
Bloomberg reports Sunday that "Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to deploy the military and an army of teenagers to help fight the coronavirus. He’s also weighing putting parts of the U.S. on a travel blacklist."
Tel Aviv's logic is apparently young people, which happen to make up the vast majority of enlisted and lower officer ranks in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), are less susceptible to the virus and most often only experience it as a mild flu-like sickness.
Israel has already moved to block entry into the country for foreigners coming from current virus epicenters and hot zones, including from some European countries. The country has seen 25 confirmed cases as of the weekend and an estimated 80,000 citizens ordered to self-quarantine in their homes, according to Health Ministry figures.
Per Bloomberg, military personnel will focus efforts on disinfecting high trafficked gathering spaces and to deliver medical supplies, which is to include use of the air force:
Young people and the army will be mobilized to disinfect public spaces such as railway and bus stations with bleach. Netanyahu is putting them on the front line after concluding “the pandemic is not afflicting children or young people.”
Netanyahu has been one of the few world leaders to bluntly call the virus a “global pandemic,” something the WHO has thus far controversially refrained from doing.
The Israeli minister claims “the pandemic is not afflicting children or young people” and is thus mobilizing the mostly young IDF enlisted ranks:
And deputy director of the country's Health Ministry, Itamar Grotto, sounded the alarm in comments on an Israeli broadcaster Sunday, telling the population of some nine million to be prepared to see "tens of thousands" of coronavirus cases.
“According to our estimates we will reach thousands and even tens of thousands of patients; That can’t be prevented,” he said on Israel's Channel 12.
“Not all of the tens of thousands will go to hospitals, most will be treated within the community. Some 80-90 percent of the patients will only develop very mild symptoms and nothing will happen to them, they will just have to stay in home quarantine until the disease passes,” he added.
Meanwhile, in the Palestinian territories at least seven have tested positive for Covid-19, prompting the Palestinian Authority to declare a state of emergency in the occupied West Bank on Friday. The Israeli Army then moved to seal off Bethlehem, restricting travel further than usual in or out.