Soldiers seen flouting social distancing rules at IDF headquarters

Military describes incident in Tel Aviv’s Kirya base, in which troops were seen failing to abide by coronavirus regulations, as ‘irregular’

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

Soldiers were seen crowding a cafeteria and openly violating the military’s social distancing regulations in the Israel Defense Forces’ Kirya headquarters in Tel Aviv this week, in footage received by The Times of Israel.

When asked about the matter, the military described the incident as “irregular” and said it would step up enforcement in order to prevent further breaches of its coronavirus restrictions.

The videos (above) were filmed in one of the dining halls on the Kirya base in central Tel Aviv. Soldiers could be seen standing in close proximity to one another while in line for food and eating next to one another.

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 incident seen in the video is irregular. In light of it, enforcement has been increased with the aim of preserving the health of servicemembers,” the IDF said in a statement.

The military also noted that while there were violations of social distancing directives, troops are permitted to eat at tables in dining halls thanks to plastic dividers at each seat.

However, in the footage, the plastic dividers were seen not being used as required.

The videos were sent to The Times of Israel by a person on the base who did not wish to be identified.

The footage came as the military has seen a slight uptick in the number of coronavirus cases in its ranks in recent days.

After a major outbreak last month, in which over 1,400 servicemembers were confirmed as carriers of the disease, the military has brought infection rates under control in recent days.

On Monday, the IDF reported its lowest number of confirmed cases in months — 90 — among soldiers, officers, reservists and civilian employees. One servicemember was in moderate condition on Monday, while the rest had light symptoms, according to the military.

However, this ticked up in the following two days, with 26 new confirmed cases as of Wednesday. In addition, 1,547 servicemembers were in quarantine, the military said.

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