In light of the coronavirus pandemic, thousands of Israel Defense Forces’ soldiers are being ordered to remain on base for an indefinite period of time to minimize their exposure to the virus. The IDF is taking such measures to remain vigilant against COVID-19 and maintain operational preparedness.

Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) has implemented programs to address the emergency needs of soldiers quarantined on bases and at home. Its staff in Israel is distributing hygiene kits, yoga mats, gym equipment, packages of snacks and more to soldiers, and is working closely with the IDF to support their well-being and needs as the situation progresses.

While quarantined on their bases, IDF soldiers are helping the Israeli national effort through blood drives and by managing two—and soon to be four—hotels that have been converted into quarantine and rehabilitation centers for the civilian population, all while maintaining operational alertness.

FIDF continues to connect FIDF supporters with soldiers on the ground in Israel through virtual briefings, regular updates and fundraising efforts that provide a range of assistance from hygienic necessities to leisure facilities, all of which are important to addressing the well-being of soldiers. There is an urgent need for even more hygiene kits to be sent to the soldiers, and this is one of FIDF’s top priorities at this time.

“The IDF has always been the protector of the State of Israel—today more than ever as we battle the coronavirus around the world. The IDF can never take a break—not for an hour, not for a minute, not for a second,” said FIDF national director and CEO Maj. Gen. (Res.) Meir Klifi-Amir.

“Its supreme duty is to keep Israel’s borders secure and its civilians safe,” he continued. “To that end, the IDF needs to remain in full readiness and be prepared for any challenge. The IDF cannot take any risk that its soldiers or entire military units will be incapacitated. For this reason, the military made tough decisions, including the separation of civilians from soldiers so that soldiers must stay on bases for at least a month.”

A soldier in the Israel Defense Forces unpacks hygiene kits delivered from Friends of the IDF, March 24, 2020. Courtesy: FIDF.

The current crisis also means that many soldiers, including lone soldiers with no immediate family in Israel, will not be home with their families for the Passover holiday, which starts at sundown on April 8.

According to Klifi-Amir, this creates considerable challenges for all soldiers, including lone soldiers. “FIDF is in daily communication with the IDF to follow their directives and understand the soldiers’ ongoing needs in order to adjust our support and activities and to guarantee that even during these difficult times, we continue to fulfill the needs of our sons and daughters in uniform,” he said.

On top of the aid being provided to soldiers across Israel, FIDF is also prioritizing the DIGNITY Program, which helps ease the burden on soldiers and their families who struggle to cover their daily expenses. Soldiers and their families with financial difficulties are challenged even more because of the coronavirus pandemic and are in immediate need of financial relief.

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