IDF prepares for Seder night: Bases packed, a virtual roll-call for those on leave

The Israeli Air Force also released thousands from its Hatzerim Air Base in the Negev so they could celebrate at home.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

The IDF has made special preparations for the Passover Seder during the time of corona. Bases will be packed, unlike most years, where soldiers return home to celebrate with family. Those who are given leave will report to daily ‘virtual roll-calls’ to ensure they’re following health guidelines.

Thousands of soldiers were sent on leave ahead of the holiday, which celebrates the Exodus from Egypt. It was the first time they were given leave since the health crisis hit Israel seven weeks ago.

The Israeli Air Force also released thousands from its Hatzerim Air Base in the Negev so they could celebrate at home.

All the soldiers will report to a daily roll-call using Zoom, a video conferencing software whose popularity has soared in the current crisis.

Soldiers will be asked specific questions to determine if they’re following the health restrictions. Those that haven’t will be disciplined. Disciplining includes  receiving a different assignment in the Army in which they’ll work alone for two weeks, Makor Rishon reports on Thursday.

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The paper reports that the IDF’s fear is that soldiers will return to base infected and put whole units out of commission. The fear is even greater at the Hatzerim Air Base, where pilots fly sorties to keep their skills sharp and make sure the planes are in working order.

A senior officer at Hatzerim told Makor Rishon, “There are a lot of soldiers here that haven’t been home for a month, and we decided that on Seder night they’ll celebrate with their nuclear families. They need to get some air, because after the holiday they return for another month of no leave.”

Full bases

At the same time, tens of thousands of soldiers won’t be going on leave for the holiday and will celebrate the holiday on base or at various posts around the country. Contrary to Passovers past, this means  training bases will be full, a challenge to the IDF in connection to holiday preparations.

Israel Hayom reports the IDF has more than 1,000 tables, 800 benches and tents for celebrating the holiday meal. The IDF purchased 81 kilograms of matzah, 200 kilograms of beef, chicken and turkey, a million kosher-for-Passover sandwiches, 36 thousand liters of grape juice and 25,000 bottles of soda.

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For soldiers on operations, personal Passover meals-ready-to-eat were prepared. In the Golani Brigade, the Seder will be held outdoors. “If it’ll be too cold, we’ll arrange Passover shifts, led by religious solders trained for the role,” IDF Lt. Col. Sivan Bloch told the paper.

“As someone who spent the majority of his years in the Army during the Seder, I have to say that the holiday in the Army is rich in camaraderie and good spirits,” Lt. Col. Raz Sarig told Israel Hayom. “We’re talking about an experience without connection to corona. This year there’s a challenge because the bases will be filled with soldiers.”