Israel helping Arab communities during COVID lockdown

Sunday, October 4, 2020
Michael F. Haverluck (

IDF tunnel searchThe Israel Defense Forces is stepping up its relief efforts as an extended COVID lockdown is under way by breaking the cultural divide with the Arab and Druze populations of the Jewish State as it provides humanitarian aid to communities often at odds with the Israeli government.

Areas served by IDF’s Homeland Command during the coronavirus lockdown include Jesus’ hometown, Nazareth – as the military branch improves relations with citizens there who are 70% Muslim and 30% Christian.

A bridge over the divide

IDF Homefront Command Regional Commander of the Haifa District Col. Elad Edri is adamant about helping all those suffering from the collateral damage of the pandemic.

“Let’s just say that the virus doesn’t divide between Jews, Arabs, Druze – it comes to all the municipalities in Israel,” Edri told CBN News, noting how his unit brought food and services door-to-door to individual citizens during the first lockdown. “It’s an emergency situation, and the Homefront Command is used, is trained, is armed to deal with [emergencies], as we see on [the] borders during [a] war. But now, we took from methods that we used during a real emergency like the Second Lebanese War and we, kind of, [adapted] it to the reality of the Corona.”

He then stressed how COVID-19 is expanding his team’s mission.

“We coordinate between the municipalities and the Israeli government – which provide a lot of help in different kinds of ways,” Edri said. “We are here with them [so] they don’t have to deal with this situation alone – it’s a kind of cooperation between the IDF and the municipalities.”

A major step up from previous efforts is being witnessed across the small Middle Eastern nation with a population around 7 million.

“[IDF Homeland Command is] processing some 50,000 COVID tests a day – seven times the number handled in the first wave,” CBN News reported. “[It] also gets key information out to the public – distributing leaflets to passing motorists and going from shop to shop in city centers.”

The effort is so widespread that some 4,500 IDF soldiers and reservists are reinforcing Homeland Command’s operations, according to IDF Spokesman Jonathan Conricus, who noted that troops are serving in hospitals nationwide, as well as in 26 hotels that are set up for COVID isolation and recovery – not to mention those conducting information outreach and others who are providing assistance in civilian laboratories.

“The average citizen sits in his living room, and he doesn’t know if he can get out for work, and if he can take his son to school, and if he can go to buy food, and if he can get out for basic services,” Edri stressed.

This all-hands-on-deck assistance campaign utilizing thousands of those enlisted in the IDF is being led in Nazareth and other parts of northern Israel by IDF Major Muli Paz, who sees this operation as a great community outreach opportunity.

“I’m helping the citizens to understand we are in Corona time – we pass at the business stores, we are meeting people, we are explaining what is the Corona … how much is [the] danger, and we give them masks, [and] to the kids, we give balloons,” Paz told CBN News. “The citizens in Nazareth are very disciplined, and they’re waiting for us to come to them and to talk with them – to explain to them … they’re really great.”

Hospitals extending hands, too

A physician who leads the emergency room at the Christian missionary hospital, EMMS Nazareth Hospital – one of the oldest hospitals in the Middle East – is excited to partake in this novel effort that goes beyond his regular practice … a campaign that is ultimately uniting a divided nation.

“[This is a] new area of cooperation that you have to work with all the country together – with the Homefront and with the IDF, the police,” Dr. Najib Nasrallah – a Catholic -- informed CBN News before stressing how all Israeli hospitals are in great need of help … and now banding together. “We really take this help from the IDF or Ministry of Health and other offices in the country, and we cooperate very good.”

He stressed that with the new COVID outreach, longstanding tensions that Israeli Arabs had with police and the IDF are becoming a thing of the past.

“Really – [in] this situation – we overcome these things, [and] it's important that the Arab population [doesn’t] think that the IDF is going … to attack her, and that was important that in this situation,” Nasrallah added. “[W]e are all together in one war against the Corona, [and] I think that it's a very good thing, because the bottom line [is that] people want to live together.”

A culture of extending a hand to its enemy

In August, Israel also extended an offer of aid to its contentious neighbor to the north, Lebanon, after the catastrophic blast that killed more than 100 and injured thousands that left large areas of its capital, Beruit, in ruins.

Consistent with its yearning to help those in distress – both friend and foe – the IDF expressed its heart to assist its neighbor in need at the time several weeks ago, according to Breitbart News.

After viewing the aftermath of the horrific explosion, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi announced their desire to help those suffering from the blast.

“Israel approached Lebanon through international defense and diplomatic channels to offer the Lebanese government medical humanitarian aid,” Gantz and Ashkenazi informed in a joint statement appearing in the August Breitbart report.

Following the blast, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered Israeli National Security Adviser Meir Ben Shabbat to coordinate an assistance plan with the United Nations – an offer that was confirmed by U.N. envoy Nickolay Mladenov.

President Reuven Rivlin also expressed his eagerness to provide help.

“We share the pain of the Lebanese people and sincerely reach out to offer our aid at this difficult time,” Rivlin was quoted by Breitbart.

In the report, the director of the Galilee Medical Center, Masaad Barhum – whose hospital is located just south of Israel’s border with Lebanon – shared the same desire to help Israel’s neighbor to the north – the home of the Islamic terrorist group Hezbollah.

“We wish to extend our hands in aid and assistance … we only want to help you,” pleaded Barhum, whose hospital is one of four that offered medical services for Lebanese victims. “Rest assured, those who come in wounded and hurt will leave safe and sound – with the grace of God. We’re waiting for you.”

We stand with Israel

As President Donald Trump has been leading the way for Israel’s new and unprecedented peace deals with neighboring Arab nations – including its latest landmark negotiation with the United Arab Emirates – the United States has an ongoing commitment of investing its resources in its greatest ally in the Middle East.

A few years ago, the U.S. signed a $38-billion-10-year security deal with Israel – the largest amount given in such an agreement to any nation, according to The Associated Press.

Under the Trump administration, the U.S. also started the trend of numerous nations establishing their embassies in Israel’s capital city, Jerusalem, as a sign of global support for the nation Israel and its right to exist – a right that has been challenged by the co-terrorist-led Palestinians and various Muslim nations harboring Islamic terrorists, including Iran.




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