Border police head diagnosed with virus after attending event with Gantz, Rivlin
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Senior IDF officer to quarantine after exposure to carrier

Border police head diagnosed with virus after attending event with Gantz, Rivlin

Yaakov Shabtai found to have infection after participating in Thursday memorial for 2014 Gaza war, which was also attended by IDF chief

Border Police Chief Yaakov ‘Kobi’ Shabtai (R) at a ceremony attended by IDF chief of staff Aviv Kohavi, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and President Reuven Rivlin for the fallen of Operation Protective Edge, on July 2, 2020 (Screen grab via Walla)
Border Police Chief Yaakov ‘Kobi’ Shabtai (R) at a ceremony attended by IDF chief of staff Aviv Kohavi, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and President Reuven Rivlin for the fallen of Operation Protective Edge, on July 2, 2020 (Screen grab via Walla)

Border Police Commander Yaakov “Kobi” Shabtai has been diagnosed with the coronavirus days after he participated in a memorial service attended by the president, defense minister and IDF chief of staff, Hebrew media reported Saturday.

Shabtai attended the Thursday ceremony at Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl commemorating the sixth anniversary of 2014’s Operation Protective Edge, which included the participation of President Reuven Rivlin, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi.

The Health Ministry said later Saturday that based on the results of an epidemiological investigation, Rivlin, Gantz and Kohavi didn’t need to enter quarantine.

The families of victims did not attend the official state ceremony, whose attendance was limited because of coronavirus-related health concerns.

Yaakov Shabtai, commander of the Border Police, on September 28, 2017 (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

In addition, Shabtai attended multiple ceremonies within the Border Police over the past week, meaning that potentially hundreds of officers could be quarantined, Channel 12 news reported.

Also Saturday, the military said Maj. Gen. Nadav Padan, head of IDF Central Command, would enter quarantine after taking part in an event on Tuesday at which a confirmed coronavirus carrier was present.

The Israel Defense Forces said another unnamed senior officer in Central Command, which is responsible for an area that includes the West Bank, will also enter quarantine after attending the same event.

“The officers will stay in quarantine and continue to maintain a regular schedule as much as possible. The commanders feel well, don’t have symptoms and will soon be tested [for the coronavirus],” an IDF statement said.

Padan also had to enter quarantine in April, after exposure to a person with the virus.

Since the start of the pandemic, several senior IDF officers besides Padan have been sent into isolation after coming into contact with people later confirmed to be coronavirus carriers.

IDF chief of staff Aviv Kohavi (2nd L), Defense Minister Benny Gantz (2nd R) and President Reuven Rivlin (R) attend a memoral service for the fallen of Operation Protective Edge, on July 2, 2020 (Mark Neyman/GPO)

On Friday, an unnamed advisor to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee was diagnosed with the coronavirus. Yosef Grif, the Knesset sergeant-at-arms, told Knesset members and workers that anyone who was in contact with the individual should follow the Health Ministry’s quarantine guidelines.

The Israel Defense Forces is considering cancelling planned training for reserve soldiers as coronavirus cases continue to surge, the Kan public broadcaster reported Friday.

Israeli reserve soldiers take part in a training drill in the Baf Lachish army base in southern Israel, on December 22, 2016. (Maor Kinsbursky/Flash90)

“It will be difficult to bring together a 500-member battalion from across the country and let them stay together,” an unnamed senior military official told the network.

Other options under consideration include keeping the soldiers in the so-called “capsule” system of limited, fixed groups, or to impose limits on interactions between soldiers and people outside the army.

The report did not specify any particular units that could have training scrapped or adjusted.

The reports came after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday Israel was again in the midst of a “major outbreak” as the number of active coronavirus cases in Israel passed 10,000 for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Health Ministry said there were 10,060 active cases, overtaking the previous high of 9,808 active infections recorded on April 15.

Police officers guard at the entrance to a neighborhood in the central city of Lod that was placed on lockdown due to a rise in coronavirus cases, on July 3, 2020. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

Among the active cases, 77 people were in serious condition, of whom 27 were on ventilators. Another 69 people were in serious condition and the rest had mild symptoms or were asymptomatic.

Of the 28,055 people who have been infected since the outbreak began in Israel, 17,699 have recovered. The ministry announced an additional fatality from the virus, bringing the national death toll to 326.

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