Faster Please

There will be a new air defense system to compliment the Iron Dome that Israel has deployed against the kassam and Grad rockets fired from Gaza. This system, sometimes called Magic Wand, is supposed to be ready for deployment within two years, and was unveiled at the Paris Air Show rcently.

This system will be very much needed if Hizballah decides to start firing rockets at us from Lebanon. The craziness in Syria has its affect in the other countries surrounding Israel – as this interesting analysis of last night’s rocket fire from Gaza points out.

Got Him!

The Israeli Air Force is on its toes as usual. Earlier this afternoon it downed a drone sent from the north of the coast of Haifa. The navy is now looking for the wreckage.

It is interesting that Prime Minister Netanyahu was in a helicopter on his way up north at the time of the sighting of the drone, and they landed until the drone was destroyed.

It seems that the IDF is very alert, given the craziness going on in Syria.

This Could Have Been My Family

Arabs threw rocks at cars and trucks last evening, and caused a serious accident, where a mother and her daughters were hurt seriously – the two year old baby is fighting for her life. This happened about a five minute drive from my house (and I had been in the area just a few hours before it happened).

Terror takes many forms. When the IDF and the Shabak (Israeli security services) have good information they can prevent the terrrorist attacks, especially suicide bombers and attempted kidnapping. When the terrorists see that they are not being successful, they send out their lesser troops – the stone throwers. The media doesn’t even report incidents of stone throwing (unless of course the IDF, while protecting its citizens, reacts “disproportionately” and then they report it far and wide) but make no mistake – rocks can kill.

The situation always gets worse when a big-wig comes to visit Israel from America. The terrorists need to make sure “they are on the map” in order to impress the VIP. A visit from the president of the United States is a ripe time for them to get active.

Another Parent’s Nightmare

For those of us living in Yehuda and Shomron (Judea and Samaria)  tremping (hitchhiking) is a fact of life. We live in areas that are rural and the bus service is usually not adequate. Therfore adults and teenagers take rides with strangers.

For a long time we did not have a car and I took rides home to my yishuv after work (going to work was somewhat easier as I took rides with people I knew). As my sons grew older they also started to take tremps. I tell them that they need to travel with at least one other person, have their cell phone on at all times, and look carefully at the driver before getting into the car. With all of these precauations, I still get nervous when they do this.

Now the IDF has put out a video trying to discourage teens, especially those who live where we do, to avoid hitchhiking, because there are many terrorists who want to kidnap Israelis, like they did with Gilad Shalit. I wish I hadn’t watched the video, because it will give me nightmares.

I don’t think the video will affect the number of teens traveling like this though. During the spring months, when high school kids have a lot of bagriot (matriculation exams) the usual school schedule is practically suspended. A kid will have a day off to study before an exam, and then have to get to the school at 1:00 pm for the exam itself – and there is no school bus for them to take. Most parents are not available to drive kids to school in the middle of the day, and the busses are practically non-existent during the slow hours.

Both of my boys are learning to drive now, and will hopefully get their licenses soon. As much as I fear them driving I think this video will put that fear into persective.

Controversial Israeli Films Fail to Win Oscars

Two Israeli films that contain controversial content (Israel bashing, of course, what else?) have failed to win the Oscar award. They join other Israeli films that portray the IDF in a bad light who have been nominated but have not won the Oscar in the  past.

A pr0-IDF group has put out a spoof of this phenomenon (sorry, no English subtitles yet). For those of you who do not understand Hebrew, the directors of the film keep cutting the scenes when the soldiers tell the truth about what happened, and only put in what makes the IDF look bad. This spoof is funny, but sadly enough, true.

True Grit – Israeli Style

I came across this video on the Aish HaTorah site, about an amazing young man who was critically injured during the Second Lebanon War, and has come back stronger than before. Please click on the link to be inspired.

They Are Very Afraid

The religous Zionist segment of Israeli society is disproportinately represented in the officer’s corps in the IDF. We comprise approximately 12% of Israeli society, but 35% of the officers in the IDF wear the knitted kippa (skullcap).

This disproportion is very frightening to some secular Israelis, especially in academia – so much so that it has been studied. Israel HaYom has an interesting article about this topic, which is essentially a book review of a collection of essays.

The essays are written from various viewpoints. I find it ironic that those who are most frightened of the fact that so many national religious young men are now officers are mistaken about the viewpoints held by these officers. They assume, wrongly, that those national religious soldiers hold views that are, for want of a better term “extremely right wing” concerning future borders of Israel, and that these viewpoints will seriously affect how they act in the army.

Perhaps it is all relative, but from my experience I see that the men in the national religious camp that are extremely right wing either do not serve at all, or serve for a very short time, and are most certainly not the ones who go on to become officers. They usually sit and learn in yeshiva, and do the minimum of army required by the hesder program (14 months, versus the committment to three full years for officers).

The religious men who do go on to become officers are committed to the army for the best of reasons, and with the guidance of their rabbis serve to the best of their ability while following the halacha. For the most part their motivation for being in the army in general and their desire to be officers in particular comes from an overarching ideal – that of serving Klal Yisrael and protecting their fellow Jews. This ideal then makes it easier for them to perhaps follow a more lenient interpretation on some halachic issues where others would take a more stricter view.

Therefore the fear by many in the secular camp in Israel about the national religious in the army is misplaced and completely blown out of proportion. It comes from not understanding the nuances of a different sector of the country.

Third Iron Dome System Operational in Northern Israel

The IDF has set up the third Iron Dome battery in the northern part of Israel.  The other two were set up within the past few weeks. This is a sign that Israel expects rocket fire coming from the north – either from Hizbollah in Lebanon or from either Assad or the rebels in Syria – or perhaps even both.

This comes in a addition to the anouncement that President Obama will (finally) come to visit Israel next month. He is coming supposedly to further peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians (good luck with that….) but I think he will be speaking more about the problems in Iran and Syria.

The fact that Ahmadinejad is visiting Egypt now – the first time an Iranian leader has done this in three decades – is a warning sign too. For those of you not familiar with history, the sliver of land called Israel has been in the middle of wars between the ruling powers around Egypt in the southwest and Syria in the northeast for centuries. The players change frequently but the fight for supremacy is the same. The fact tha Iran has backed Assad in Syria has made it in conflict with Egypt – but perhaps now that there is a new ruler in Egypt Iran wants to warm up relations.

In any case the IDF is making preparations for the next round.

The Security Threat in Israel Never Stops

The security threat to Israel never stops. Keeping an eye on what is happening in Syria, Israel has deployed two more Iron Dome systems in the north. There is concern about the chemical weapons being given to Hizbollah in Lebanon.

Israeli sources have “confirmed” that there was a blast at a nuclear facility in Iran. The Israeli government never takes responsibility for these blasts, but Avi Dichter’s comment is telling. Above and beyond what is actually happening in Iran, there is a lot of psychological operations going on with the press as facilitator.

Meanwhile the IDF is busy protecting Israel by finding terrorists before they take action. They caught two terrorists who had planned on carrying out an attack in Elon Moreh.

One ironic note: a journalist on the radio here just complained that even when the Israeli public votes in a party that primarily concerns itself with domestic issues, the security situation rears its head and takes over the headlines. As I wrote before, there really is no chance for a “central” party to gain the most votes and form the coalition, precisely for this reason. Security will always be the main issue here in Israel. Domestic issues come to the fore when the government (right wing, usually) takes care of the security issues to the point where they are on the back burner. But security issues are always important, and they never completely go away. We don’t live in Switzerland, after all.

A Tribute to Our Soldiers

I would like to share this beautiful tribute to the IDF soldiers that I found on the IDF Facebook page. My two younger sons are now in the process of going through the various tests to figure out where they want to serve, so this is becoming more and more relevant to our family.  Enjoy!

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