Israeli Army Plans to Move Soldiers With Coronavirus to New Location, Sparking Parents' Ire

The conscripts and career soldiers, who maintain they caught the virus while serving in areas badly hit by the outbreak, claim the decision to move them from a resort village to a military hospital is based on financial reasons

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Home Front Command soldiers distribute food in the city of Bnei Brak amid the coronavirus crisis, April 7, 2020.
Home Front Command soldiers distribute food in the city of Bnei Brak amid the coronavirus crisis, April 7, 2020.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

The Israeli army told Sunday dozens of conscripts and career soldiers who were diagnosed with the coronavirus that they would be moved from the resort village in Ashkelon where they were staying to a military hospital in Haifa within the next few days, a decision they strongly oppose.

The soldiers, as well as their parents, say they will suffer from poorer conditions there, and maintain that they were infected as a result of IDF negligence in the management of the coronavirus crisis. They also note the soldiers were infected while serving in areas badly hit by the outbreak, or in military bases where the necessary precautions were not observed.

In March, the military decided to turn the resort village in Ashkelon into a center for soldiers sick with COVID-19, hoping to limit the spread of the virus among soldiers. About 80 soldiers at the resort village are recovering in relatively good conditions, similarly to civilians who were placed in hotels across Israel.

On Sunday, the commander of the resort village, Lt. Col. Oshrat Golan, gathered all the soldiers for a talk, and informed them they would be moved to the military hospital in Haifa. The hospital, formerly known in the army as “Hospital 10,” has a capacity of 350 patients and is currently designated only for coronavirus patients.

The hospital is now divided into three wing: One has 184 beds intended for patients in mild condition, who are treated remotely through the use of cameras; another wing with 166 beds is intended for patients in moderate condition who need help breathing; an intensive care unit with 16 beds for patients in serious condition.

The soldiers said they were furious about the decision to move them from the resort village, claiming it is only based on financial reasons and that the officers did not explain the thinking behind the move. Many spoke to commanders in their units in an attempt to find a different solution, and others who belong to elite units are seeking their help to avoid being moved.

A number of parents told Haaretz that they intend to go as far as bringing the issue to court, asking for an injunction to stop the move. They also said they are ready to take their children back and place them in isolation in their homes, if permitted.

The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said: “The contract with the recuperation village in Ashkelon will end at the end of May. Possibilities for other locations are now being examined, according to the medical needs.”