Alex Fishman
Alex Fishman
Photo: Ynet
Israel's coronavirus cabinet meeting in Jerusalem

Israel's leaders have to make tough choices on the virus

Opinion: Once the IDF takes control of the fight against COVID-19, the political echelon must impose a lockdown to help its efforts to stem spread of the virus, but that could put it in public's crosshairs

Alex Fishman |
Published: 09.06.20 , 22:14
There is no one in Israel, including the IDF Home Front Command, who knows how to stem the chain of infection when the daily number of new coronavirus cases exceeds the 2,000 threshold.
  • Follow Ynetnews on Facebook and Twitter

  • This fact is known by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein, the various members of the government's coronavirus cabinet, and especially by coronavirus czar Prof. Ronni Gamzu.
    קבינט הקורונהקבינט הקורונה
    Israel's coronavirus cabinet meeting in Jerusalem
    (Photo: GPO)
    They were informed of this fact many weeks ago by both the Defense Ministry and the military.
    The maths don't lie. In order to effectively cut the exponentially growing chains of infection, the "factory" set up by Home Front Command must reach tens of thousands of people every day.
    Due to the soaring cases, the defense establishment has suggested that Israel focus on lowering the number of daily new infections from the thousands to the hundreds.
    The government for its part is disinclined to share this simple mathematical fact, as it prefers not to admit to its disgraceful failure in managing the pandemic since May.
    Currently, the Health Ministry is responsible for severing all chains of infection. The current system can track and trace the people who came into contact with approximately 200 new infections per day - meaning that roughly 90% of those who came into close contact with an infected individual cannot be traced.
    מעבדות לבדיקת קורונה של צה"למעבדות לבדיקת קורונה של צה"ל
    An IDF coronavirus testing lab in Tel Aviv
    (Photo: AFP)
    Last Thursday, the Home Front Command announced the establishment of its coronavirus headquarters - the first step in Gamzu's plan to rein in the pandemic, which includes giving the operational lead to the military.
    The Home Front Command headquarters comprises three control centers, each with a different task. The first conducts tests and operates testing labs in cooperation with civic bodies; the second deals with isolating potential patients and has been operational for a few months already; and the third is tasked with locating those who have come into contact with confirmed patients and cutting the chains of infection.
    The centers aim to locate and isolate anyone who came into close contact with a verified coronavirus patient within 36-48 hours, thus reaching more people before the chain of infection spreads.
    רוני גמזורוני גמזו
    Coronavirus czar Prof. Ronni Gamzu
    (Photo: GPO)
    Cutting a chain of infection within one or two days is vital if Israel is to halt the spread of the pandemic until a vaccination is produced in large enough quantities.
    The third control center, dubbed the "Alon Headquarters," is in the initial stages of recruiting researchers and is set to be deployed nationwide on November 1.
    At that point, the ball be in the court of the political echelons, who will have to make difficult decisions.
    In order to effectively lower the number of daily infections, Israel must take drastic measures. The most drastic of all is to impose a general closure that will last for a number of weeks.
    סגר בשכונת רוממה בירושליםסגר בשכונת רוממה בירושלים
    Israel Police implementing a lockdown on parts of Jerusalem in July
    (Photo: Yoav Dudkevitch)
    When Alon is operational will be the time to enact these drastic measures, including widespread closure.
    This is the only way to flatten the curve. If this does happen, it will only be after the High Holidays, which end with Sukkot on October 9.
    Enacting restrictions during the holidays may stop additional cases from cropping up, but any drastic measures must be taken after the holidays, when Alon is ready to nip the pandemic in the bud.
    But doing so would be admitting failure, which may make the public hold decision-makers accountable. That is something the political leaders of this country wish to avoid.
    Talkbacks for this article 0