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IDF cancels reservist exercises, limits leave as military COVID cases soar

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

Israeli soldiers wear face masks at a police roadblock in Tel Aviv during the nationwide lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, September 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Israeli soldiers wear face masks at a police roadblock in Tel Aviv during the nationwide lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, September 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

The Israel Defense Forces cancels all exercises for reservists through the end of the month as it rolls out a number of fresh restrictions as coronavirus cases in the military have skyrocketed in recent days and are expected to continue to do so in the coming weeks, a senior IDF officer says.

As of today, there are currently more than 6,000 soldiers, officers and civilian employees of the military who have been diagnosed with the disease, an increase of more than 1,000 cases in 24 hours.

In addition to the canceled exercises for reservists, the military is limiting leave time for combat soldiers over the next two weeks in order to ensure that it has sufficient troops at its disposal, the senior officer tells reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The IDF is also tightening its restrictions on gatherings, he says.

The officer says the military anticipates the meteoric rise in COVID-19 cases to continue in the coming weeks. The IDF is now working to “lower the flames” of the outbreak and ensure the military can continue functioning as needed, he says.

The officer adds that the IDF has purchased hundreds of thousands of testing kits in order to better track the disease’s spread through the military.

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