IDF to assist elderly with food, medication deliveries during coronavirus crisis
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IDF to assist elderly with food, medication deliveries during coronavirus crisis

Deal struck between prime minister and defense minister will have military ensure at-risk population has access to necessities, as well as basic human interaction

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

An Israeli woman wearing a face mask for fear of the coronavirus at the Mahane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem, March 22, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
An Israeli woman wearing a face mask for fear of the coronavirus at the Mahane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem, March 22, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The government on Tuesday tasked the Israel Defense Forces with assisting the country’s elderly population, ensuring access to food and medication, as well as basic human interaction, during the coronavirus crisis, the Defense Ministry said.

The military and Defense Ministry have been working to develop specific plans to help this specific, at-risk group and their proposal will be brought for government approval in the coming days, the ministry said.

“The defense minister will put together a national plan on this matter, which will provide for the needs of the elderly population, including nutrition, medical needs, long-term quarantine, loneliness and more,” the ministry said.

According to IDF Spokesperson Hidai Zilberman, roughly 1,000 soldiers from the Home Front Command will take part in this effort.

The troops were working with local government officials to locate each town’s elderly residents and determine how best to assist them, Zilberman said.

The Prime Minister’s Office said it gave the military the task based on advice of the National Security Council.

“The decision was made after a series of discussions led by the NSC on the elderly population, which assessed the policies toward this population in reference to the coronavirus,” the PMO said.

“It was agreed that the main food distribution centers around the country must be mapped and that available personnel must be linked with resources and needs, such as the channeling of assistance and personnel to where they are lacking,” the office said.

As the coronavirus appears to most severely affect elderly carriers of the disease, the rest of the population has been instructed to avoid contact with older people in order to better protect them from the infection. This has included the closure of all nursing homes to visitors.

However, Israeli officials fear this has had a negative impact on elderly Israelis’ ability to purchase food and other necessities, as well as on their mental well-being.

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