Israeli Army prepare for closure of West Bank over coronavirus

Municipal employees spray disinfectant in a children's playground in the Israeli coastal city of Bat Yam (AFP)

MEE Staff

Middle East Eye  /  March 24, 2020

The Israeli army is preparing for a complete shutdown of towns, cities, and settlements in the occupied West Bank, in a bid to combat the spread of coronavirus, Ynet newspaper reported.

Both the Golani and Paratroopers army brigades are being trained to impose a full closure of the military checkpoints in the West Bank.

A shutdown of the military checkpoint at the entrance of the Shuafat refugee camp in occupied East Jerusalem would leave 23,000 Palestinian residents under lockdown, Haaretz said.

Israel’s Home Front Command has already deployed 1,000 reserve soldiers in the coronavirus battle.

“We are increasing the military’s role through assistance to local and regional government,” Hidai Zilberman, an army spokesman, told Ynet.

“Within our ranks, we are also preparing for mass contamination of troops and are separating teams to avoid such scenarios.”

Within the Israeli army, 23 soldiers have tested positive for the coronavirus, and 6,500 soldiers have been put in quarantine.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tasked the army on Tuesday with assisting the elderly, providing food and medical products.

In recent weeks, Israel has also engaged its intelligence arms – the internal Shin Bet and the external Mossad – in combatting the coronavirus pandemic.

On Tuesday, Israel recorded the country’s second death due to the virus, also known as Covid-19.

There have been 1,656 infected cases and the country is drafting regulations to limit the movement of Israelis to within a 100-metre radius of their homes.