Corona Commandos to the Rescue

By Shlomo Maital

No question, the heroes of the pandemic are the doctors nurses and healthcare workers. But there are other heroes… rather unusual ones, here in Israel.

Raviv Drucker, writing in the daily Haaretz, notes the key role played by Israel’s elite special forces (commando) unit, known as “Mat’kal” or simply, in slang, “THE unit”, and Israel’s intelligence unit known as The Mosad.

Mosad managed to obtain 10 million surgical masks, ventilators, and 500,000 coronavirus tests – rumor has it, from Saudi Arabia!

And the Corona Commandos? They were given the mission of tracking down chemical reagents, used in the key coronavirus tests, in very short supply. And they succeeded, I believe, by finding a way to quickly produce the reagent, or a close substitute for it, close enough to be suitable. A second mission? Find those known to have COVID-19 who have gone missing… and in this too they are succeeding, with technology and persistence.

 The city in greater Tel Aviv known as Bnei Brak houses 200,000 persons, mostly Ultra-Orthodox. It took a long time to get the message across there, not to congregate in synagogues and yeshivas (halls of Torah study). As a result many Bnei Brak residents have become infected. It has thus been necessary to send Border Police into the area, to ensure lockdown, and at the same time, a brigade of paratroopers, with their red berets, have been distributing door-to-door food parcels, for Passover, to families that generally have many children.

  These are unusual roles for soldiers and officers. But the Army is uniquely equipped, in organization, planning, discipline and dedication, to carry out Corona Commando missions. Perhaps other countries, too, can learn from this. In general Israelis accept the presence, and orders from, the army, and cooperate. There is a huge gap between the immense technical capabilities of the Israel Defense Forces and the rather backward Ministry of Health. In these times, we can use nothing less than the very best.