IDF to again allow soldiers to take regular furloughs, use public transportation
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IDF to again allow soldiers to take regular furloughs, use public transportation

Military says will stop running its internal transport service and also shut down facility for troops who contracted the coronavirus

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Israeli soldiers get off a bus as they arrive at the Gaza border on March 25, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Israeli soldiers get off a bus as they arrive at the Gaza border on March 25, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The Israel Defense Forces said Thursday it will again allow soldiers to take furloughs as normal, after nearly two months of limiting troops’ leave due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The move comes as the country generally begins to return to its normal routine as the COVID-19 crisis appears to be coming under control.

The military said troops will again be able to use public transportation fully and that as a result, the IDF will stop running its internal transport service.

The IDF additionally said it will also close its resort for soldiers who contracted the coronavirus in Ashkelon, sending the remaining troops to civilian facilities in Ashkelon and Nahariya.

A Magen David Adom ambulance at Tel Aviv’s Dan Panorama hotel, which was turned into quarantine facility, on March 26, 2020. (Gili Yaari /Flash90)

Despite the return to normal, the military says it will continue to deploy troops in the country’s old age homes, though this too will be faded out in the coming weeks.

The government last month diverted military resources to help contain the rapid spread of coronavirus in nursing homes around the country which raised intense concern for the safety of elderly residents.

As of Thursday, 223 people in the IDF have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, all with only mild symptoms. Of those, 140 have recovered or since been discharged and there are 83 people with the virus currently in the military, the IDF said.

Police officers and IDF soldiers guard at a checkpoint in a Jerusalem neighborhood under lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic, May 1, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Israel’s weekly confirmed coronavirus cases have dipped below 500 for the first time since the outbreak gained steam in the country, according to Health Ministry data published Thursday night, underlining the swift slide in new infections as the nation takes steps toward reopening.

One new death was confirmed, bringing the toll to 240.

The total number of confirmed infections stood Thursday at 16,381, with the Health Ministry reporting 42 new infections over the previous 24 hours.

According to the ministry, 83 people were in serious condition, 68 of whom were on ventilators. Another 56 Israelis were in moderate condition and the rest had mild symptoms.

So far, 10,873 people in the country have recovered from COVID-19, according to the figures.

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