COVID-19 in the Holy Land

Thursday, March 26, 2020
J.M. Phelps (

Jerusalem (aerial view)A former officer in the Israeli Defense Forces is offering a firsthand account on the current situation in the Jewish nation where the spread of COVID-19 is a growing threat.

The Jerusalem Post recently shared a dire warning from Israel Defense Forces (IDF) chief of staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi as he warned that "a serious phase" still lies ahead for the Israeli people. "There will be a deterioration in the scope of the health of patients, the economy and society," Kochavi predicted. With the coronavirus infecting nearly 2,400 Israelis thus far, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is considering harsher regulations if the upward trend doesn't improve.

In an exclusive interview with OneNewsNow, Miri Eisin describes the current conditions in Israel. According to the former IDF intelligence officer, Israel has been under a much stricter environment than the United States for a number of weeks.

Eisin describes Israel as a "very family-oriented" country of nine million citizens. Travel was limited for the Israeli people for several weeks – although a "complete closure" of travel has been implemented in recent days, she adds. People have been told to shelter in place, she says; they can only leave their homes to buy food or for medical needs; and if they are found outside without a reason, they are fined.


In addition, the country's seniors have been advised not to leave their homes at all and also to refrain from interacting with their immediate family or grandchildren. However, Eisin points out, "every local municipality has a cadre overflowing of volunteers to bring food and medicine to those who [have been advised] not leave their houses."

Interestingly, some segments of Israeli society have been exposed to the coronavirus more than others, Eisin explains.

"Over 30 percent of the Israelis who have contracted the disease are from the Jewish orthodox communities – both modern and Haredi [who adhere to a strict interpretation of Jewish law and values]," she tells OneNewsNow. She attributes the large percentage to communal prayer gatherings.

"The IDF Home Front Command has been appointed to help many of the efforts [of increasing] medical capabilities," the former intel officer notes. "[That branch of the IDF] is also responsible for running coronavirus rehabilitation facilities which have been opened in local hotels for those who have [shown symptoms of] the disease."

Having once served as the head of the combat intelligence corps for the IDF and assistant to the director of Military Intelligence, Eisin sympathizes with the headquarters of the IDF. "Headquarters has tried to isolate the soldiers as much as possible [to prevent] an outbreak in the ranks" – and, thus far, their efforts have been a "great success," she acknowledges.

Eisin discloses that there have been "a few low-level confrontations in Judea and Samaria – [but] the Palestinian Authority has also imposed a closure to limit exposure to the disease" – and this, she explains, impacts the activity of terrorist groups in the region.

"Gaza, not surprisingly, is used to being in a closure and ironically that has helped them maintain a coronavirus-free area," says Eisin. In fact, only two verified cases have been discovered. "If the virus is not contained in the Gaza strip," she adds, "the effect could be disastrous due to the high density of people living there."

The geopolitics expert says the greater Middle East isn't exempt from the threats of what's now considered a world pandemic. As a result, Eisin says, "it has lowered some of the harsh violent spots around [Israel] for the moment." Nevertheless, countries like Iran and Turkey are blaming Israel for the pandemic – rhetoric she describes as "echoes of old, hardcore anti-Semitism, blaming Jews for the plague."

Israel's borders are "presently quiet," Eisin admits. "It seems like each country is focused inwards [and it appears" Hamas and Hezbollah are busy with their own domestic constituencies."

Even so, she wonders: "How long will the quiet last?" … and "If things get worse medically, could it deteriorate into violence on the borders?"

For this reason, the former IDF officer says Israel must remain "alert and vigilant even in these challenging times, as civil society and the medical profession are the ones stepping up to the plate [to combat the coronavirus]."

Eisin regards Israel as a "strong resilient community with an efficient leadership that will bring [the country] to a better place." And she remains encouraged on a global scale because "Israel, as elsewhere, is working hard to find a cure, a vaccine, a future for us all." (See related article)


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