It’s hard to imagine even another week under lockdown. Many worry that every extra day of closure brings the economy closer to total collapse. But Israel’s Military Intelligence Directorate believes that the Jewish state and its Arab neighbors will be dealing with the coronavirus and its aftermath until the end of 2021, at least.
It’s the job of Israel’s military intelligence to routinely assess the long-term affects of various events and situations. And it’s good at this job. In the case of COVID-19, these experts should be taken even more seriously.
According to veteran Israeli journalist Ben Caspit, the Military Intelligence Directorate has dedicated unprecedented resources to keeping on top of the coronavirus, both at home and abroad.
Caspit reported in the Hebrew-language daily Ma’ariv that the formation of Israel’s global coronavirus intelligence center happened about two months ago. The head of the directorate’s technology arm, identified only as Col. N, seemed distracted. Intelligence chief Maj.-Gen. Tamir Hayman asked him what was on his mind. Fear that Israel could be the next Italy, that’s what Col. N couldn’t shake.
General Hayman wasted no time. Col. N was immediately put in charge of a task force comprising 400 analysts and experts who scan every shred of information related to the coronavirus worldwide. In this way, from their command center at Sheba Hospital in Tel Aviv, Israeli Military Intelligence is able to produce some of the world’s most detailed analyses and strategies in the battle against COVID-19.
Israel’s Military Intelligence is in the know when it comes to the coronavirus. That much is clear. The fact that they are devoting so much of their resources to this crisis should be quite telling.
Still, Caspit asked how long General Hayman and his men believed the crisis would last. Until the end of 2021, at least, was the disheartening answer.
Of course, there is debate over whether it’s the virus itself, or the aftermath of our government’s policies that will take so long to overcome.
Many experts, including Israelis, are saying that COVID-19 is something we will have to learn to live with, even if a vaccine is developed. It will become a seasonal threat like the thousands of other viruses we battle every year. Perhaps more damaging is the global lockdown, which in Israel has resulted in 27 percent unemployment. Nightly news broadcasts have shifted from scaremongering over the number of dead to heart-wrenching stories of average Israelis who can’t put food on their tables.
Arab states and Iran are lying about their number of infected and dead, charged Mossad chief Yossi Cohen. And that makes the timeline to regional recovery even more uncertain.
Channel 13 News cited Cohen as telling a meeting of health officials on Thursday:
“In Lebanon, Iraq and Syria there is a high morbidity and they’re lying. The number of infected and dead that the Iranians are reporting is also not true. The numbers I’m familiar with are much higher.”
Iran has confirmed 87,000 coronavirus cases and 5,481 deaths. That already makes it the hardest hit country in the Middle East. And the reality could be much worse. Cohen is not the only one saying that the Islamic Republic is concealing the true extent of the crisis.
Iraq, meanwhile, has confirmed just 1,677 cases and 83 deaths, Lebanon has reported 688 infections and 22 deaths, and Syria has confirmed a mere 42 cases and three deaths.
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