Israel’s Health Ministry confirmed on Monday that the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus infections in the country had climbed to 1,238, with 24 people in serious condition. The majority of cases are mild, according to the ministry. As of Sunday, 37 people had recovered.

On Sunday, Israel’s defense establishment requested to be put in charge of the country’s response to the growing COVID-19 crisis. Senior defense officials said that the Israel Defense Forces was “ready and willing to do so immediately,” and that any delay could cost lives.

Under Israeli law, if the government declares a national state of emergency, the IDF Home Front Command is authorized to assume responsibility for crisis management from the country’s civilian authorities. The military’s mandate elapses immediately when the state of emergency is lifted.

In recent days, the IDF has stepped up preparations for the possibility that the Ministry of Defense might take the lead in the battle against COVID-19, even though the matter is currently designated as the responsibility of the Health Ministry, with the Defense Ministry serving an auxiliary role.

As part of its groundwork, the IDF has updated its special protocol for natural disasters and renamed it “Ray of Light.” The directive includes preparations for extreme scenarios in which the IDF would have to take over the handling of the entire civilian economy, as well as the population.

The IDF hopes that the Israel Police will be responsible for enforcing the mandatory lockdown and other directives, but if the situation continues to deteriorate, the nation will be divided into sections, each of which will be placed under the command of an IDF division. Individual cities and towns will be assigned to brigades with battalions responsible for neighborhoods.

Meanwhile, the IDF and the Defense Ministry continue to pursue solutions for current shortages in supplies and manpower.

The Intelligence Directorate’s Special Operations branch, for example, is working on adapting ventilators and manufacturing thousands of protective masks each day. Other teams are working on developing smartphone applications for the general public. The Defense Ministry is working with Israel’s envoys abroad to locate and procure vital medical equipment.

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

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