Only In Israel

Sunday, September 21, 2003

A Small Problem

Due to some unexpected problems (I still haven't finished packing), I can't write a full report today (have to mount a bus in 4 hours from now). My apologies, and expect it later this week.

Sunday, September 07, 2003

Report 2

And again, I've returned home from basic training after two weeks of training...
As we got back to the base two weeks ago, we were taken to a week in the field. Building our own tents, living in the desert, eating nothing but military field rations, and doing lots of shooting practice, with variuos forms of shooting, standing, kneeling, lying on the ground. Night shootings, Day shootings, fixing stoppages in measured times ETC.
In general it was fun, other than the part where I woke up in the middle of the night with a scorpion on my face. No, I'm not joking. I woke up, and openned my eyes because something was crawling on my face. I saw something yellow and automaticly put my hand to remove it, feeling something cold, hard and moving, I threw it a few meters away, got up, put my glasses on, and took the time to shout like a girl. Then I went to my commander who checked I wasn't bitten by it (she still probably thinks I dreamt it, though I know I didn't). You can imagine, falling asleep the next few nights was kinda hard.
That week passed real quickly, and all in all, it was fun. A few unusual things were noticed that weekend. First of all, we were all HAPPY to return to the base, which is weird as our usual motto is "A million flies can't be wrong, Shivta is a shitty place". Then we began liking the food: anything other than corned beef, tuna and biscuits made in 1997 (says so on the box!) seemed like god's gift. The weekend was funner than the last one I stayed in, because in this one, there were girls in our base.
I missed that detail in the last report, so let me fill you in. As some of you know, in Israel, practicly all military positions are openned to girls, and as the draft is compulsory for all, girls serve with the guys. The unit I serve in, usualy has girls serving with the guys, but unfortunately for us, this time, the girls will only get drafted in november, so no girls in my platoon. But, the platoon next door, has girls in it. They arrived on tuesday, three weeks ago. All the girls there were carefully picked, and as this is a combat unit, their physical skills were checked before the military, and some fitness tests had to be passed.
At first, they had a really hard time, two weeks ago was the first time a girl was dropped to do push ups. She did two. Then fainted.
The guys who are pro girls in combat units took a hit. The situation improved greatly in the next week. At the end of the field training week, before we returned to the base we had a journey of 5 kilometers (with all of our equipment on: PRCs, stretchers, jerrycans ETC), which the girls did with us, and I have to honestly admit, they did much much better than about half of the guys with me. Some of them even helped to push forward some out of shape guys.
The girls now get dropped to 40 and 50 push ups and do it easily, and even if a guy would WANT to humorize them, he'd have a problem as plenty of the guys in ours and their platoon are much weaker than the girls.
Back to our topic, as I said, with girls around, Sabbath was way funner.
The next week our platoon was taken away from the rest of the unit to build a memorial ceremony for the Artillery units in northern Israel. Plenty of us were happy since they thought it will be easier than spending another week in the field, like the rest of the unit did. Turned out, it was much harder than we thought. I mean carrying 2500 plastic chairs up a staircase, just isn't as fun or easy as you'd expect. Nothing really interestin happened in that week, except in the night patrols. I attempted to arrest my platoon commander (an IDF officer). As it was dark and I've seen a figure coming towards me, I practiced the regular arrest procedure. First you shout "Stop!". then you shout "Stop and Identify yourself", then you shout "Waqef!", which means stop in arabic, then you shout "Waqef wa-la ana batuhaq" which means "Stop or I'll shoot you". That's as far as I got, till he said "it's your platoon commander, you can relax".
I thought I saw a hint of a smile as he turned around and walked away (did I mention commanders can't express emotions or smile near us?).
Anyhow, at the end of the week, we were told that this week we will be sworn in as soldiers, and everyone was asked on which book/text he wants to be sworn on. Most said "the torah". There was this guy who is an atheist and was about to ask to swear on the declaration of independence, but he changed his mind the last moment. That's what coming next week. That, and we'll learn how to throw granades... Can't wait for that one.
See you in two weeks.