Over 1,000 United States natives are currently serving as Lone Soldiers , those who join the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) with no immediate family in Israel. In light of the coronavirus pandemic, thousands of IDF soldiers have been ordered to remain on base for an indefinite period of time to minimize their exposure to the virus. The current crisis means that theses soldiers will not be home with their families for the Passover holiday.
The IDF is taking these necessary measures to remain vigilant against COVID-19 and maintain operational preparedness. The IDF undertakes the responsibility of not only fighting against foreign armies but also assisting with national civilian missions. While quarantined on their bases, IDF soldiers are helping the Israeli national effort through blood drives and by managing two—and soon to be four—hotels that have been converted into quarantine and rehabilitation centers for the civilian population.
Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) has implemented programs to address the emergency needs of soldiers quarantined on bases, and at home. FIDF staff in Israel is distributing tens of thousands of hygiene kits; gym supplies, which consist of various weights and equipment; yoga mats; snack and sweet packages; Sony PlayStations; and more to the IDF soldiers.
“I think there’s no denying that it’s a scary time right now and that the ultimate source of comfort is being with family. While it’s tough to be so far away from my family right now, I’m grateful for my amazing community of friends here in Israel and for all the support I receive as a Lone Soldier from FIDF,” said Lone Soldier Pvt. Juliana from Los Angeles, who serves in the IDF Foreign Relations Unit.
FIDF continues to work closely with the IDF to support the soldiers’ increasing well-being needs as the situation progresses. In addition, FIDF has established a dedicated information center for Lone Soldiers and their loved ones, as well as a special quarantine facility in the Givat Olga recreation center to provide the best care and attention for their needs.
“While unfortunately we won’t be able to have our son with us for Passover this year, we know that he is staying safe and is in good hands with the IDF,” said Jordana , the parent of Lone Soldier Ari from Michigan. “When we first sent him to serve as a soldier in the IDF we knew there was a chance he would find himself on the front lines of a battlefield, but frankly we could not imagine that we would be on the same front lines of this global-scale battle. We can’t wait to have him back home with us next year for Passover.”
There is still an urgent need for more hygiene kits to be sent to the soldiers, and this is one of FIDF’s top priorities at this time. On top of this aid being provided to soldiers across Israel, FIDF is also prioritizing the FIDF DIGNITY Program, which helps ease the burden on soldiers and their families, who struggle to cover their daily expenses. Soldiers and their families with financial difficulties are challenged even more because of the coronavirus pandemic and are in immediate need of financial relief.
“The IDF has always been the protector of the State of Israel, and today more than ever, as we battle the Coronavirus around the world. The IDF can never take a break – not for an hour, not for a minute, not for a second,” said FIDF National Director and CEO Maj. Gen. (Res.) Meir Klifi-Amir . “The IDF’s supreme duty is to keep Israel’s borders secure and its civilians safe. To that end, the IDF needs to remain in full readiness, and be prepared for any challenge. The IDF cannot take any risk that its soldiers or entire military units will be incapacitated. For this reason, the military made tough decisions, including the separation of civilians from soldiers so that soldiers must stay on bases for at least a month.”
According to Klifi-Amir, this creates considerable challenges – for all soldiers, including Lone Soldiers. “FIDF is in daily communication with the IDF to follow their directives and understand the soldiers’ on-going needs, in order to adjust our support and activities, and guarantee that, even during these difficult times, we continue to fulfill the needs of our sons and daughters in uniform,” he added.