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March 15, 2020 7:19 pm

As Coronavirus Intensifies, Israel Preparing to Mobilize IDF to Fight the Disease

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

A paramedic adjusts his protective suit as he prepares outside a special polling station set up by Israel’s election committee so Israelis under home-quarantine, such as those who have recently travelled back to Israel from coronavirus hot spots can vote in Israel’s national election, in Ashkelon, Israel March 2, 2020. Photo: REUTERS/Amir Cohen.

As the coronavirus crisis intensifies around the world, Israel is preparing for the possibility that it may mobilize the army to help combat the disease.

The Jewish state has already shut down air travel, schools, restaurants, and places of entertainment, as well as quarantining thousands of people.

Israeli news website N12 reported on Sunday that the next step will be to grant far-reaching powers to the army to contain the spread of the virus, though these powers will remain limited, at least in the near future, stopping short of martial law.

The government is reportedly considering the move because it now believes the crisis will not pass quickly and Israel must prepare for a more long-term response to the threat.

One possibility discussed is for the military to divide Israel into various geographical areas, a tactic used during the Gulf War to deal with Scud missile attacks.

The army would then place each region under different regulations depending on the spread of the virus. Movement between these regions would be restricted as needed.

It is believed that such a policy might facilitate a speedier return to normal life in the least-affected areas.

So far, the security establishment has refrained from ordering such extreme measures, though the power to do so will be granted as early as tomorrow, according to the N12 report.

In order to prepare for this, Defense Minister Naftali Bennett has called up 2,000 reservists to be assigned to Homefront Command.

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