Leaves cancelled for Israeli combat troops, soldiers in training

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have cancelled all leaves for combat troops and soldiers in training for at least the next month due to an increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in the military, the media reported.

The decision taken by IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi on Sunday came after more than 1,190 soldiers, officers, non-commissioned officers and civilian employees of the military have tested positive so far, while 13,038 service members were currently in quarantine, reports The Times of Israel.

This was nearly double the amount of confirmed cases as there were two weeks ago which was 622.

The move however, would not affect soldiers serving on so-called “open bases,” who go home most nights, but would only be applied to those on “closed bases”, who live in their units for extended periods.

“Exemptions would only be approved by a commander with the rank of major general,” the IDF said in a statement.

“All combat troops, people serving on training bases or closed bases should arrive to their bases on Tuesday ready to remain there for an extended period, for a period of 30 days,” it added.

In the statement, Kohavi said the decision was necessary to ensure the “fitness of the military to perform its security missions”.

As of Sunday, the Health Ministry reported 226 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total in Israel to 229,374, with 68,788 of them considered active, reports Haaretz news.

At least 1,512 patients are hospitalized, a record number since the outbreak began, while 749 of them are in serious condition, nearing the 800-patient threshold health officials have warned would lead to a collapse of the Israeli health system.

Meanwhile, the country’s death toll stood at 1,450, after three new fatalities were reported on Sunday.