January 2011

Pictures of the Month Operations Room
• he “Netzah Yehuda” Battalion has thwarted a terrorist attack in the Mevo T Dotan area – The force opened fire at a mule-riding-gun-totting terrorist coming close to a watchpost. READ MORE • hree successful IAF attacks in the Gaza Strip serve as a response to T continuing sporadic rocket fire on Israel. READ MORE • uhammad Nadgar, activist with “the Palestinian Military Islamic Jihad” M organization, specializing in planning mass terror attacks, has been eliminated by an IAF aircraft in another precise operation. READ MORE • Friendly fire” kills Staff Sergeant Nadav Rotenberg during operational “ activity against terrorists whilst these were placing IED’s right on the dividing fence at the Gaza Strip. READ MORE

One on One

• Pride of a Soldier - Andrei is a combat soldier for Home Front Command Search and Rescue unit. Tomer Meshulam is a noncommissioned officer also for the Home Front Command. Both soldiers are openly gay, though they came out to their friends and families in completely different ways. READ MORE

Challenges of the Moment

• The Diamond "Yahalom" Unit of the IDF Engineering Corps brings state of the art combat engineering to protect and cover all IDF forces on the ground, in the air and at sea. The Unit has evolved according to the ever growing engineering needs of the modern battlefield and has adapted itself to today's combat conditions. A fascinating background study on a little-known but highly regarded force of dedicated, professional and particularly needed troops. READ MORE

On the Agenda

• The IDF Engineering Corps will update its Battle Doctrine according to conclusions drawn from “Operation Cast Lead (Dec08/Jan09) as well as the Second Lebanon War(July/Aug06). “The role of the Engineering Corps has been redefined” explains the Head of Expertise in the corps. READ MORE • eserves will be the focus of the Engineering Corps’ activity for 2011 R – as indicated in the corps’ annual paln of activities. Furthermore numerous new combat equipment will be introduced as well as impressive investment in training programs. READ MORE

IDF Events

• The Chief of Staff farewells the IDF – Lieutenant General Gaby Ashkenazi, who terminates his role during February, pays final visits to the corps and their various bases, including the AIR FORCE and the NAVY. • ceremonious moment at the Headquarters’ Synagogue in the A “Kyria” with the introduction of a Torah Scroll entirely dedicated to IDF POW’s and MIA’s, in the presence of Noam Shalit, the Feldman Family and the Chief of Staff, Lt.Gen. Ashkenazi. READ MORE • The Anti Aircraft deployment will be renamed “Aerial Defense System”. This re-definition marks the change from defense from aircraft only to the present variety of aerial threats. READ MORE • n IDF ambassadorial delegation shows the real faces of the IDF to A the communities of Los Angeles. READ MORE • Colombia’s call for assistance is answered with yet another IDF rescue and assistance mission to the rain ravaged South American nation. READ MORE • The IDF and the community - Before joining their own families for Shabbat Dinner, Elite Troops volunteer for weekly food parcel distribution to families in need .READ MORE

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January 2011

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Infantry Soldiers Thwart Attempted Shooting Attack
A Palestinian opened fired at soldiers of the Kfir infantry Brigade in the Samaria region on Thursday morning (Jan. 20) . A Palestinian opened fire toward soldiers of the Kfir infantry Brigade on Thursday morning (Jan. 20) in northern Samaria, around 11 o'clock a.m. The shooting took place in the Mevo Dotan community near Jenin. The results of a preliminary investigation of the event show the Palestinian terrorist was riding a donkey and approached the pillbox where the soldiers were standing, the descended from the donkey holding a gun. The terrorist moved toward the pillbox yelling "Allahu Akbar" (Allah is the Greatest). The soldiers fired a warning shot in the air and the Palestinian began shooting at them. The soldiers fired back in response and the Palestinian was killed. This week, during a visit with the Samaria Territorial Brigade (allocated to the Samaria region alone), Defense Minister Ehud Barak said he is, "in awe of and appreciative for the extraordinary achievements in terms of prevailing security all over the Central Command and the Judea and Samaria Division, and also here in Nablus." He continued saying it was, "The fruit of exceptional professional labor of the IDF, the ISA and the coordination and understanding of a common interest with the Palestinian security services." In a report, the Israel Security Agency summarized the past year noting a recorded decrease in terrorist attacks in the Judea and Samaria region (16 attacks in 2010 as opposed to 20 in 2009), despite a significant increase in their severity (5 deaths), with an emphasis on the Judea region. At the backdrop of this, Hamas infrastructures were rebuilt in the Hebron and Yatir regions. In the Jerusalem area, however, an increase was recorded in the number of terror events (including two shooting attacks), disorderly conduct events and events of rock and Molotov cocktail throwing.

January 2011

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IAF Targets Hamas Sites in the Gaza Strip
In response to recent rocket fire toward Israel, the IAF targeted three terror sites . In response to rocket fire toward Israel, the Israeli Air Force targeted and struck three terror sites in the central Gaza Strip. Direct hits were confirmed.

These terror-linked sites were targeted in response to rockets being fired at Israel's southern communities over the past few days. Four Qassam rockets have landed in the Ashkelon Shore Regional Council since Monday morning. The IDF holds the Hamas terrorist organization solely responsible for maintaining the calm in the Gaza Strip and for any terrorist activity emanating from it. The IDF will also continue to respond harshly to any attempt to use terror against the State of Israel.

January 2011

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Islamic Jihad Operative Planning Massive Terror Attack in Israel Targeted in a Joint IDF-ISA Operation
An IAF aircraft targeted an operative of the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization who’d been involved in planning a massive attack in the heart of Israel . In a joint IDF and Israel Security Agency (ISA) operation, an IAF aircraft targeted an operative of the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization, Mohammed Najar. Najar, born 1987, was involved in planning a massive terror attack in the heart of Israel. A direct hit was confirmed. This operation and ones like it disrupt the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization’s attempts at executing terror attacks on Israel. The organization has been involved in firing rockets toward Israeli territory and IDF forces over the past few days. Over 20 Qassam rockets and mortar shells fired from the Gaza Strip have landed in Israeli territory since the beginning of 2011.

January 2011

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IDF Soldier Killed in an Exchange of Gunfire
Sgt. Nadav Rotenberg killed by a mortar shell when a group of armed Palestinians were discovered planting an explosive device along the security fence of the Gaza Strip . IDF soldier, 20-year-old Sgt. Nadav Rotenberg from Ramot Hashavim (central Israel) was killed on Saturday (Jan. 8) during an exchange of fire on the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip. The soldier's family was notified. During the event another officer was moderately injured and three other soldiers lightly injured. The soldiers were transferred to Soroka Hospital in Beersheba. Following the event, a preliminary investigation took place in the area by Commander of Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Tal Russo and Commander of the Gaza Division, Brig. Gen. Yossi Bachar, during which it was discovered that Sgt. Nadav Rotenberg and the other soldiers were hit by an IDF mortar shell fired. For reasons still being investigated, the mortar shell wavered from its intended course, hitting the force doing a search after a terrorist cell was found planting explosive devices near the security fence near kibbutz Nirim. Maj. Gen. Russo has ordered a special investigation crew headed by an officer with the rank of Lt. Col. to investigate the circumstances of the event.

January 2011

Pride of a Soldier

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Andrei is a combat soldier for Home Front Command Search and Rescue unit. Tomer Meshulam is a non-commissioned officer also for the Home Front Command. Both soldiers are openly gay, though they came out to their friends and families in completely different ways. While the US military abolished their "Don’t Ask Don't Tell" policy (where soldiers must keep their sexual orientations a secret in order to continue to serve) just this year, the IDF has allowed openly gay men and women to serve in uniform 17 years prior. Andrei Rubin, a gay man serving as a combat soldier for the Home Front Command's Search and Rescue unit, tries to explain why the IDF's repeal preceded the US military's by such a large gap. "The US – as big and democratic as it is – seems to have a more conservative spirit," he says. "In Israel, there is more of a familial vibe, the melting pot we live in forces us to accept each other." Andrei moved to Israel when he was 10 years old, and came out to one of his friends on his 17th birthday. "He was very supportive when I told him and that gave me the courage to tell everybody. The first reaction is very important. My coming out was very successful and I didn’t get a very negative reaction," he shares. However, coming out to his father was still extremely difficult for him. "My dad thought I was just young and confused," he tells. "His acceptance ended up coming via music. We were listening to 'Queen' together and talked about how Freddie Mercury was immensely successful regardless of his sexual orientation, and suddenly he was more understanding of it. The turning point was when I brought my boyfriend at the time home for dinner, and my parents warmly welcomed him, and spoke Hebrew most of the night regardless of the language barriers." As time passed, Andrei came to terms with himself and his sexual identity. It started with a gay pride flag in his room, and continued to posters and frequenting gay parties. At 18, he joined the Israeli Gay Youth Organization, where a discreet group of individuals who identified themselves as homosexual, transgender, and bisexual met for social gatherings. "This was a very difficult step. I was hesitant of the unfamiliar, and scared I wouldn’t fit in, though clearly I was successful, and still volunteer in the organization today. There are many people who aren’t openly gay yet, and this is their outlet to share their experiences without being looked down on as 'weird'. Today I try to make the group become more active in the town, (located in Ashdod, southern Israel) with more local lectures and parties. In cities outside Tel Aviv, the gay community's cultural life is still lacking."

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January 2011

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Andrei will take part in a seminar raising awareness of the 'pride community' among teens. "The community is more than just the common stereotype," he mentions. In the future, he sees himself as a leader in the Israeli Gay Youth Organization. "I place great emphasis on leadership and teaching, and will most likely continue with these in the future. Even in the IDF, I hope to reach the squad commander course." The Shower Issue Upon his enlistment to the IDF, Andrei did not plan on becoming a combat soldier. His medical profile was high enough for combat, however, and he was drafted into a combat unit. "Only when I started the combat track, did I realize how much I wanted to become a combat soldier. Since they are newcomers to the country, nobody in my family served in the IDF. Eventually I chose the Search and Command unit because it sounded like a diverse and interesting position," he says. One question, he recalls, was raised among his fellow soldiers – the showers. "I explained to everyone that I completely separate between my personal life and the army. After an excruciating, long day I don’t take interest in others." Andrei's calm and open-minded attitude served his best interest since the very beginning. "I'm the only openly homosexual soldier in my battalion, though everybody knows there are others, and nobody reacts negatively. It's all a matter of attitude—If someone is true to himself, people take it differently. I'm content and proud of whom I am. It's not like I voluntarily come up to people and share my life story, but it usually comes up in conversation eventually," he explains, and mentions that "The reason I came out is to encourage people around me to come out. It's a process you go through, first you must accept who you are and the rest becomes obsolete. I believe pride is living in a way you believe in and avoiding thinking about criticism by society." The IDF melting pot not only preserving his attitude, but also helped him spread his message. "First I told the guy sleeping in the bed next to mine. He was surprised because he doesn’t come from a background where homosexuality is accepted, it was foreign to him, but he didn’t take it badly. Six months ago he told me that back home he was constantly told that being gay is a bad thing, but with my behavior and mannerisms I convinced him otherwise and altered his outlook on life. I was moved, this was exactly what I'd hoped for." Andrei learned to laugh at comments about his sexual orientation. "This way it's not a big deal, it's just like joking around with friends. I don’t project weakness, and I'm treated accordingly. I'm not unlucky or discriminated against." Coming Out Isn't Always Easy Unlike Andrei, for Corporal Tomer Meshulam, who serves as a non-commissioned officer (NCO) at the Home Front Command, coming out did not go as smoothly. "At 15, I realized I was gay but didn’t know what it meant exactly. The subject was never discussed at home, but I quickly understood who and what I am, and decided to come to terms with who I am and not be scared of my true identity. Tomer, an athlete since a young age, heard many homophobic comments in his environment which discouraged him and delayed his coming out. "I decided to tell one of my coaches who I know to be gay. I knew he was the only one who could understand my confusion. He just said, "Cool, I didn’t know." It was liberating, I've been lying about who I am for so long. My coach discussed it with me and supported me in telling my friends."
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January 2011

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After admitting he is a homosexual for the first time, Tomer decided to confess to a close friend. "I knew she was very open to the issue, and her response was that she already knew. Truthfully, I was hoping she would pretend to be surprised. Thanks to this friend though, I go to events and parties of the gay community. It's very scary in the beginning but I didn’t realize how many diverse people the community includes," he says. Tomer faced resistance back home. "My mom, who I told when I was 17, said 'How do you expect me to react to this?' and we haven’t spoken about it since," he shares. "She doesn’t accept it, she's scared of it. My older brother would never accept it, and my dad comes from a conservative home so I haven’t told him. It's a difficult position to be in. The life of a gay person is filled with hardships. I know that at the end of the day, when I leave home, my mom will have to accept my lifestyle." Similarly to Andrei, when Tomer was drafted to the army he knew he would have to re-adjust. "I knew I would have to separate myself from everything. In the army there are people with a varying of opinions about everything – not just homosexuals. If you worry how it may bother some people, it's important to consider a million other things Israelis disagrees about, more substantial issues. I assured to whoever was bothered by my sexuality during basic training that even if they constantly work out, I don’t really care." During his compulsory service, Tomer did not hesitate and told his commander right away, during the initial interview. "Quickly the entire branch found out. The girls were excited, but when a new commander joined I wasn’t sure he would accept it. When I told him he was surprised but accepted me and didn’t treat me any differently," he shares. "Coming out in the army was important to me, especially since I'm going to be spending every day with these people for the next three years and they get to really know you," he explains. "A person's sexuality is a minor issue in comparison with other things. I greatly appreciate that the IDF disregards it during the enlistment process, I couldn’t have imagined myself in any other situation."

January 2011

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The "YAHALOM" (Diamond) Unit
Background "Yahalom" is the Hebrew word for "Diamond" and also serves as the Hebrew acronym for "The Engineering Corps Unit for Special Projects". "Yahalom" is one of the most prestigious units in the IDF, it began its existence as two reconnaissance companies named Yael Company and the Brigade Bomb Removal Company. The Yael Company was set up to provide more precise expertise than the regular engineering forces. Since the establishment of the Engineering Corps in 1948, bomb removal forces existed within the corps, but only during the 70's, a specialized bomb removal was established as an elite company. In 1995, the Yael and Bomb removal companies were unified. Purpose and assignments The purpose of the Yahalom Unit is to serve as the sole expert authority in the IDF in all that concerns Explosives, IED's and Bomb Removal. The roles performed by the Yahalom Unit include specialized engineering tasks, precise demolitions, sabotage across enemy lines, treatment of explosives, preparation of explosives for multi purposes, neutralizing enemy sabotage explosives, minefield removal, clearing routes at sea and on land, locating and destroying arms caches as well as smuggling tunnels. Furthermore the unit is responsible for the development of means and methods in the engineering areas, as well as training other forces in the unit, the Engineering Corps and the IDF in general, in the relevant subjects. The Yahalom Unit is responsible in preparing its battle doctrine as well as developing its own arsenal so as to adapt to its particular needs for the special operatives it is assigned to. The Unit is divided into – • "Yael" Company – One of the IDF Commando units. Due to its classified status, it operatives are not publicly known, and if revealed, operation are never linked to the specific company but rather to engineering forces in general. The revealed work of Yael include particularly precise sabotage in structures and facilities. Since its inception, Yael combatants have been responsible for numerous classified operations against Hezbollah and other terror organizations, subjecting them to major losses. • Sapir Company – The sabotage corps of the IDF, made of up small companies of elite combat forces intended for the neutralizing of explosives, smart bombs and other unexploded ammunition. These companies differ particularly in their deployement, including their responsibility towards the Air Force. • Samor Company – Samor is the Hebrew Acronym for "Caches and Tunnels" – namely a unit that specializes in underground commando warfare, in destroying arms caches on all fronts. The unit operates particularly on the South Gaza front, and is also involved in the destruction of smuggling tunnels that serve ammunition as well as terrorists.

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January 2011

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The Yahalom Unit during Israel's wars The unit has participated in a number of critical operations during a number of campaigns, serving to expose its importance to the combat forces. • Operation Defensive Wall – March 2002: The unit was awarded an Order of Excellence from the CO Central Command Yitzhak Eitan in 2002, for its participation with the combat forces during their particularly risky encounters. • The Second Lebanon War – August 2006: Yael forces were among the first to penetrate the Lebanese territory. During this complicated war, the unit exhibited the variety of its capabilities in dismantling explosives, dealing with underground explosives etc. Yahalom forces together with other engineering forces as well as infantry, destroyed Hezbollah outposts, bunkers and commands. • Operation Cast Lead – January 2009: Dyuring this operation, Yahalom forces lead the way for ground forces by neutralizing hundreds of IED's. furthermore they exposed and destroyed numerous Hamas bunkers and tunnels. Commitment Motivation A Yahalom troop begins his way with being conscripted to the Combat Engineering Corps. After this conscription, troops are sent onwards for further selection processes from which 40-50 troops are actually chosen to go through the training process for Yahalom. About 20% of Yahalom troops are former Flight cadets, Navy commander cadets, Submarine cadets and the like. The training period spans 1 year and 4 months, which includes also a commanders' course for NCO's, and every turnover of such trainees sends 8-10 soldiers to Officers' Course.

January 2011

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Engineering Corps Will Update its Military Doctrine
After lessons learned from Operation Cast Lead and the Second Lebanon War, the Engineering Corps has decided to renew its military doctrine . Following the Ground Forces’ renewing of its military doctrine, the Engineering Corps is currently in the process of editing its own. The doctrine being updated today will replace its predecessor, parts already being published these coming months. The book, Engineering Assistance in Ground Operations, which contains new military operation concepts, is currently in the process of getting approved. The book redefines the Engineering Corps’ role as part of the ground forces’ unique missions, containing lessons learned from Operation Cast Lead and the Second Lebanon War, both having significantly affected change in the IDF’s and the Engineering Corps. In conjunction, several books about the field of engineering’s activities will be updated, including books about mining, NBC (nuclear, biologic and chemical), field fortifications, overcoming obstacles, etc. As these underwent a series of changes in recent years, both in terms of weaponry and in terms of strategic concepts, a need to update their professional publications was raised and has been undertaken. The updated doctrine is not limited to combat units. Concepts for the staff and headquarters’ will also be refurbished in the Book for Headquarters Staff and Work, which has received all necessary approvals and is currently being distributed among the corps’ staff. “Validating this doctrine has been done through intensive staff work,” said Head of Training Branch in the Engineering Corps, Lt. Col. Dvir Peleg. “With this doctrine’s renewal, the role of the Engineering Corps was re-defined and called for a need to write these new concepts.”

January 2011

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The Engineering Corps Prepares for 2011
The Engineering Corps prepares for 2011 with new tools and weapons including upgraded rockets, Barrett M82 rifles, etc. and new training techniques for reserve soldiers. The Engineering Corps recently held a conference for battalion commanders near the corps’ monument at the entrance to kibbutz Mishmar David, focusing mainly on reserve forces. Chief Combat Engineering Officer, Brig. Gen. Sheli Moshe, led the meeting while other of the Corps’ senior officials participated. These included battalion commanders of both soldiers in their regular service and those on reserve duty, the corps’ training commanders, etc. During the conference, new weapons that will soon be put into use as well as a graph outlining training for the coming year were presented and suggestions made for strengthening the reserve units. Upon concluding the meeting, a brief discussion was held between commanders wherein those who wanted to suggest improvements had the opportunity. For the Engineering Corps, the onset of 2011 is characterized by absorption of numerous new weapons, especially in reserve units. The veteran Plasim unit, for example, responsible for dealing with mines, etc., will receive hundreds of upgraded rockets with built-in grenade chains that pave a path in minefields and will be installed on armored personnel carriers (APC). They will also acquire Tzafnaim, used to penetrate minefields, tens of D9 Bulldozers and hundreds of Armonim (tools used for vision day and night). Other large-scale purchases were made in preparing for next year, including Yazamim, machines with a digital timer attached to an explosive device and set off at the desired time, vehicles for break-ins using explosives and more. Additionally, several weapon projects are being developed. The corps has been working on upgraded bridges. Even the Namer (the future APC of the IDF currently being assimilated in the Golani Brigade) will be incorporated into the corps, with a model modified for engineering that will carry tanks and engineering tools. The first operational test of the modified Namer will take place early in 2011 and will be completed by 2012. NBC (nuclear, biologic, chemical) non-commissioned officers will receive new equipment this year as well. NBC shields will be shipped in for the new battalion called Yanshuf. Jeeps usually used for detection and identification by NBC forces might be replaced with hummers. In terms of protection, the corps is in the process of purchasing vests, NBC proof beverage bags and new flashlights. Training Modifications Training methods will be altered as well. The sniper department will learn to use the Barrett M82 (semi-automatic) rifle, a heavy and effective sniper rifle used against mining and explosive targets. The course will not train fighter as snipers but as Barrett operators. The growing NBC center will be in charge of training NBC non- commissioned officers. The Yanshuf Battalion and army reserve battalions’ training will significantly grow this year, as part of the army’s recognition of the importance of countering unconventional warfare.

January 2011

Chief of Staff Parts from Israeli Navy

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In his last visit to the Navy as IDF Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi visits a number of the corps' bases . "In the past four years, I've seen the navy aim for and hit its targets. It is a corps very aware of the huge responsibility on its shoulders," said Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, during a visit at Israeli Navy bases on Wednesday (Jan. 19) in which he parted with the elite naval commandos and missile boats fighters as part of his series of parting visits from IDF units.

During his visit, the Chief of Staff spoke with missile boat fighters and sailed with them on the Sa'ar 5-clas corvette ship where he saw a weapon exhibit. Later, the Chief of Staff boarded a Morena inflatable boat and sailed to the elite naval commando base where he spoke with its fighters. The Chief of Staff added that, "Navy personnel proved their excellent operational abilities in routine activities, in Operation Cast Lead, in operations to thwart smuggling attempts and in operations done near and far away.

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January 2011

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IDF Chief of Staff Parts With Israeli Air Force
Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi, continues his round of parting visits; "You give the IDF its edge,” he said to IAF soldiers and officers . Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, visited the Ramon and Nevatim IAF bases on Tuesday (Jan. 18) as part of a series of parting visit from various IDF units. This week, the Chief of Staff visited Israel Police and the school for professions in the field of computers of the Computer Service Directorate.

During the course of the visit, in which the Chief of Staff was accompanied by IAF Commander,Maj. Gen. Ido Nechushtan, Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi met with the Levy and Itkis families who lost their sons in the crash of an F-16I fighter jet this past November. He then flew on an F-16I fighter jet, one of the IAF’s most sophisticated aircrafts, over the crash site. The Chief of Staff said after the flight that, "This has been a special and moving visit. I will salute our fallen pilots forever." At the Nevatim base, the Chief of Staff flew in the 'Karnaf' (C-130 Hercules) fighter jet which took part in the Entebbe hostage-rescue operation (in which Palestinian terrorists hijacked an Air France plane and held its Jewish passengers hostage until their rescue by the IAF). The aircraft landed in sandy area where it performed an advanced exercise. The Chief of Staff then told the pilots that, "The IAF is the strategic branch of the IDF, able to execute local as well as remote missions in the best way possible." "I know,” concluded the Chief of Staff, "That you are the best and that you give the IDF its edge." Upon the Chief of Staff's return to the base, he parted with the Corps' senior officers and an honor guard (a ceremonial event) was held in his honor.

January 2011

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Chief of Staff, “I hope we can bring them some good news soon”
A new Torah scroll was dedicated to kidnapped and missing soldiers in the Rabin Base in Tel Aviv. The ceremony dedicating a new Torah scroll to the Rabin Base in Tel Aviv, attended by the Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, Deputy Chief of Staff, Maj. Gen. Yair Naveh, Head of the Manpower Directorate, Maj. Gen. Avi Zamir and the Chief Military Rabbi, Brig. Gen. Rafi Peretz recently took place. The scroll was dedicated to kidnapped and missing soldiers. "When I heard the event was taking place, I said I would clear my schedule to be there," said Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi.

"The issue of kidnapped and missing soldiers is very complex and emotional, and any place I go soldiers, commanders, and students always express their interest and ask about it. And I always say – we sent them on a mission and have not completed it until they come home," he said. "The IDF always has and always will take care of missing soldiers, and the notion that they are in the spotlight is a comfort to families. Until we bring them results, though, it doesn’t matter," he explained, "And I hope we can bring them some good news soon.”

January 2011

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Anti-Aircraft System Gets Renamed
The anti-aircraft system gets renamed and retagged expressing changes in its units . The ceremony for renaming and retagging the antiaircraft system of the Israeli Air Force (IAF) took place on Tuesday (Jan. 18). The system’s new name will be "Aerial Defense System" as the system does not only defend against aircrafts, but against missiles and rockets as well. It will also further draw on the organizational link to the IAF. The system’s tag will be changed, adding new elements that express the new field which the system is entering of defense against rockets and missiles. The new tag and name express the beginning of an extensive and meaningful expansion including its new mission, its meanings, the organization of its units, and other important subject matters. The commander of the "Aerial Defense System", Brig. Gen. Doron Gavish, added that the process is in its last stages, at the General Staff, and that it will prepare the system for many challenges in the future. Most importantly, however, it'll provide better protection to the citizens of Israel, a type of protection that will improve in the coming years and events of rock and Molotov cocktail throwing.

January 2011

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LA, Meet the IDF
A recent delegation to Los Angeles showed its Jewish communities the real faces of the IDF . For Jewish communities of LA, the IDF recently became a reality, its officers no longer faceless figures read about in newspapers but people, with lives and stories of their own. A group of IDF officers from the air force, navy, infantry units and more flew to Los Angeles to represent the IDF in the Friends of the IDF’s (FIDF) annual gala, the Western Region Gala held in the final weeks of 2010. The group, one of many delegations sent to represent the army at FIDF events, was done so to bring people abroad the IDF’s true reality. “It’s about getting the real face of Israel,” says Lt. Mor Harduf, one of the IDF Spokesperson Unit officers responsible for working with the FIDF to send the officers abroad. “Once you get to meet a real Israeli soldier and get to know their everyday life and challenges, you find you can relate.” The Organization The FIDF is a leading organization in caring for the needs of IDF soldiers. These can be financial, educational, basic needs of everyday life and more. The nonprofit was established by several Holocaust survivors in 1981 and hosts year-round events to raise money for its many projects. Today these include: - IMPACT! A higher education scholarship program for former combat soldiers and soldiers who held combat support positions - DIGNITY, a program providing critical aid like food vouchers, special grants and holiday gift vouchers. The soldiers who get this include lone soldiers, whose families live abroad and who are often alone in Israel - Sponsored trips for lone soldiers to visit their families abroad - FIDF LEGACY, a program supporting widows and orphans with rest and recuperation events such as paid vacations and paid Bar and Bat Mitzvahs The delegation, made up of 15 IDF officers, one of which had been on board the Mavi Marmara ship and one of which was a member of the aid delegation to Haiti after its devastating earthquake, represented the IDF in a number of private and public events including visits at synagogues, talks with young leadership groups and more. One of the most memorable moments for Capt. Nofar Levy, spokesperson for the navy and commander of the delegation, was one family’s invitation to their new home. “One family hosted us on the night the Rabbi came to bless the mezuzah [a piece of parchment placed on the doorframes of Jewish homes with inscriptions from the Bible]. One of the officers came to bless it with him and the Rabbi said, now the mezuzah holds a double blessing, its own to keep this family safe and that of the soldier, who keeps the house of Jews safe.”

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January 2011

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The Gala The gala, held at the Los Angeles Ballroom of the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza was chaired by Cheryl and Haim Saban (Israeli-American television and media proprietor). Over 1,100 guests attended. Award-winning actor Jason Alexander hosted the event with performances by Grammy-winning musical guest David Foster and Andrea Bocelli taking place throughout the evening.

One of the most touching portions of the night, however, was a speech given by the Navy Seal who’d been on board the Marmara. “They didn’t really understand what happened on the ship until he was there and explained it,” said Capt. Levy. “And they were very touched – some cried.” Throughout the event, soldiers were seated at different tables in the audience, giving people a chance to get to know the officers intimately and hear their stories. One of these officers was Lt. Alon Rottenberg, a lone soldier who grew up in Mexico and served in the Artillery Corps during Operation Cast Lead. “People wanted to hear stories about Israel,” said Lt. Rottenberg. “They wanted the connection they don’t have. I think a big part of it is also getting the concrete satisfaction that they’re really giving as they don’t get to see it. Because they don’t live in Israel.“ The Most Surprising Thing Ultimately, it wasn’t just the host families and communities they visited that were surprised to learn about daily life in the IDF and Israel. The officers who came were surprised by a recurring theme throughout their visit. “They didn’t know they were so loved,” says Capt. Levy about the warmth the officers in her delegation felt from every person they encountered on the trip. “It’s touching to know people in the world love us. And these people really love us.”

January 2011

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IDF Humanitarian Aid Delegation to Colombia Reflects on Mission The IDF’s aid delegation to Colombia, its mission to bring much-needed supplies to the country suffering from heavy rains, was the first massive, foreign aid at that stage of the disaster . “I think the most memorable part of the mission was being received in Colombia,” said Lt. Col. Ilan Segal, deputy commander of the IDF’s aid delegation to Colombia, which set out on Sunday (Dec. 12) to bring much-needed supplies to the country. “[The Defense Minister of Colombia] said there was great symbolism in our arrival. He said after the Great Flood, a white dove brought Noah the message that the worst was behind him. Similarly, our white El Al plane brought the message that the worst was behind Colombia.” For weeks, Colombia had been experiencing one of it’s worst rains in over 40 years, with heavy flooding and mudslides causing more than 200 deaths and 3,000 people to be left homeless. In a conversation between the President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, and Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, on Thursday (Dec. 9), the President turned to Israel for help, asking to receive humanitarian aid in the form of supplies for the disaster’s thousands of victims. This ranged from mattresses and blankets to food like sugar and legumes to antibiotics for skin infections.

Preparations for the Mission The Israel Defense Ministry accepted the request, turning to the IDF’s Home Front Command for assistance and immediately beginning to assemble the supplies and delegation. The Home Front Command, and especially the National Search and Rescue Unit, are both equipped and able to prepare for such missions within a matter of hours. “A quick response is incredibly crucial because you only have an allotted window of opportunity to help people out,” said Lt. Col. Segal. “The faster you can prepare, the more likely you can help. People have beepers and within the second we get the command we have six hours to be completely prepared to leave.”

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January 2011

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On Friday morning, supplies began to be assembled and by Sunday morning, when the delegation set off on its 20-hour flight to Colombia, it carried approximately 55 tons of equipment with supplies being added until the last minute. These included 20 tons of dry food, five thousand medical kits, two thousand blankets, one thousand ponchos, one thousand mattresses and one hundred tents. At the time, it was estimated that as many as 50 houses were buried in the mudslide and as many as 40 people trapped inside. “The help was going to reach the people who lost everything” As their reception ceremony proved, the delegation, the most massive aid by a foreign country at that stage, shed new light on Israel as the region was known for constant news about conflict. And there was much pride that help was coming from the Holy Land. It was proof of a strong friendship between the countries. “One thing people kept saying was that the help was going to reach the people who lost everything – food, shelter,” said Lt. Col. Segal. “It’s very substantial aid because those people didn’t even have a place to sleep.” The Defense Ministry of Colombia distributed the supplies immediately and, their mission complete, the delegation returned home. “We always tell foreign countries,” said Brig. Gen (res.) Shalom Ben-Arye, commander of the aid delegation and the National Search and Rescue Unit. “The issue of humanitarian aid is one of our core ethics. Only the army can prepare and put together such missions so quickly and we help because we can.” To learn more about IDF humanitarian aid abroad, CLICK HERE.

January 2011

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“The most valuable, elite unit of the IDF” On a group of soldiers’ weekly distribution of food and supplies to needy families, IDF Website joins to hear their inspiring vision of a better society . “Israel truly has threats to its existence – but some are internal, and an elite unit that specializes in helping humanity is just as valuable as one going on a raid in enemy territory,” explains Oded Weiss, founder and organizer of the Special Charity Forces (called Sachi in Hebrew). The group of volunteers, mostly comprised of teens from broken homes in southern Israel, is well versed in the art of giving. During weekly meetings, the teens distribute packages of food and supplies to needy families in their area. Weiss’ initial idea for the organization came with “forced spontaneity” when he asked the teens if they knew of any families which might need help. “Our emphasis is on the givers, the receivers are just an added bonus,” explains Weiss. “Our goal is to raise a generation where everybody lives with the idea of giving. You have to practice giving just like you practice playing a sport and eventually teach giving as a way of life, where even the receivers are inspired to share their packages and give.” Weiss’s son Re’em adds, “It really deepens people’s way of thinking.” The Elite Unit The program has grown immensely over the past year and today consists of 100 teens spread out into seven divisions, distributing to approximately 120 families in many towns. Among the divisions is a unique group composed of soldiers. After experiencing the act of giving in the other divisions, the soldiers initiated their own group, accommodating their schedules according to their services in the IDF. Today they meet on Thursday nights. “Sometimes we even pick soldiers up from the train station, still with their bags and their guns. Before even going home to their families after a week or longer in the army they come to the distribution first,” Weiss says proudly. The group consists of 15 soldiers who alternate each week depending on who is allowed to leave base. One of those in the group, Aviv Ben- Yadid, who is to be drafted in the next few months explains, “The group is my first priority, and a big part of that is the inspiration I draw from the older soldiers, their stories, their spirit. They even helped me get into the unit I wanted.” Since they serve in some of the most prestigious units in the IDF, the soldier division is treated as a group of leaders and initiators in the program. Keeping it Anonymous Maintaining those values of honor and respect, the soldiers make sure distribution remains anonymous. They do not know anything about the families or their stories nor is that what matters. “The spirit of giving goes beyond ethnicity and even religion. I’m proud to say our first family wasn’t even Jewish,” explained Weiss.
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January 2011

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When the program started it helped only six families the teens knew needed the help, today families in need of their assistance contacting an “middleman” to find the organization which tries to stay as anonymous as possible. Recently the soldiers have been distributing to fewer families, some due to improvement in their financial state and others as a result of financial difficulties of the organization. Funded by the Latet (meaning to give) organization, the growing Sachi program still struggles to acquire money and carefully plans out what is spends on groceries and supplies. Walking into a local supermarket, Corp. Re’em Weiss explains, “What’s fun about buying supplies is that whatever food you buy is what the family is going to eat this week. And then you realize that if we won’t buy it for them, nobody else will.” He answers a phone call and exclaims, “We just got a box of peppers to distribute!” Let the Distributing Begin! As the distribution is about to start, founder Weiss proudly hugs the boys and gives a speech, reinforcing the program’s ultimate goal, “a society of givers.” While unloading the first box, a man walks by the truck and the boys quickly put away the packages, starting a generic conversation to reduce suspicion. One soldier in the group, who preferred to stay anonymous, explains that they do not want any of the neighbors knowing the family is in need of help. They prefer to protect the family’s honor. At the door, after a few powerful knocks, they place the boxes and quickly scurry to the stairwell, waiting to make sure the family takes the food so that it doesn’t remain on the doorstep for everyone to see. The door opens and a young voice says, “Thank you very much!” Everyone pauses for a moment exchanging silent glances. A chill creeps up their backs. “There are no words to explain what we do. It’s a feeling,” explains the soldier. “Everyone has to come out to be a part of it and feel it. It gives me perspective about life. The distribution is our Thursday night activity and is really the bare minimum we can do.” Weiss explains that this distribution truly becomes a part of these teens’ lives, going far beyond just a Thursday night activity. Benevolence and goodwill sink into their way of thinking as they begin to notice people all around them and wholeheartedly oblige those in need. “Destitute families and people aren’t a phenomenon of this day and age. What’s new is the kids’ ability to opens their eyes and see them, and open their hearts and make a difference.”

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