Fourteen North Texas 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 many IDF soldiers, among them some 1,000 Lone Soldiers from the U.S., including 12 of the 14 from North Texas, were not 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.
FIDF works 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.
Dallas-area Lone Soldier Yehoshua L. sent the following message to the community:
“Here’s a quick message from one of your own that’s “stuck over here” in the Holy Land. Why stuck? Well we are quarantined within the army and haven’t been allowed home for a few weeks. Why stuck in quotation marks? Because I chose to be here and if you have the right perspective… It’s really not that bad. Honestly, we are stuck in this bubble and haven’t even experienced what’s going on in the outside world. But that’s OK because within that bubble we are still functioning enough to keep doing what needs to be done.
“What I want to tell you guys is two things:
“First, please be safe and healthy during this crazy time. You’re the ones stuck in your homes and having to completely stop life. As much as you may be thinking about us, we are all thinking about you.
“Second, thank you for all of the support you’ve provided us and continue to provide. The love is felt and it means so much. Please keep your faith and know Israel will prevail!
I was planning to make the trip home in April, but unfortunately that’s been put on hold. You are all missed and future reunions will be even sweeter!”
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 the 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.