Only In Israel

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Reports 3 and 4

The recent weeks passed so quickly, I'm amazed I'm home reading a post I wrote a month ago, it seems it only happened yesterday.
The last month made me feel like a real fighter, other than learning to throw granades, we practiced shooting in various forms, kneeling, lying down, standing, at night, at day.
Probably the coolest part of it all was wet-practicing attack formations (shooting live fire and all). My platoon commander made it slightly more interesting by shouting "Allah Akbar", and "FALASTIN!!!!" at me while I was storming. Also, the part where he kicked sand and threw small stones at my helmet while I was trying to hit the target weren't too helpfull. All in all, I had good fun, the journeys got harder though
The journeys are part of a tradition in the IDF. A tradition based on "anything in the military has to be earned". We have a journey every week. When journey means, putting all the gear on, the flack-jacket, weapon, magazines as well as jerry-cans, stretchers, and radio communication devices, and half-walking half running a number of kilometers, eventualy arriving back to the base, where usualy you recieve something. First journey we got our boot camp tags (yellow and black), second journey we god our name changed from "A2" to our brigade's name "The Thunder Brigade". The journeys keep getting tougher and tougher. Longer, quicker, more demanding. It's getting harder and harder to keep up with the pace.
The first week ended with our swearing into the IDF. Vowing to do all we can to help defend Israel, it's citizens and it's democratic institutions, other than being exciting, and meaningfull, the ceremony was finished with a show of strength. A fire show by the Israeli artillery, the regular self-propelled gun, and our system, the MLRS. Till that time, the other platoons disregarded us as unserious, unused weapons... they used to call us MLR-Gays, ETC (while we used to call them "dahpazim", a hebrew acronym for "shell pusher", basicly because all they do is lifting heavy shells and shoving them into a cannon). After the fire-show, everything changed. MLRS regained its honor. copmaring the "boom-boom"s of the self propelled guns to the white stripe of a launched MLRS missle is just impossible. The effect, not just the damage it causes, but the psychological and visual effects are incomparable. MLRS became the most respected guys in the base after that one.
Moving on to our next week where we learned how to disguise ourself in the territory around us. Crawling, hiding, and surviving from the nature were taught, I think the highlight of it was when our commanders snatched a guy from the tents and made us go to "rescue" him in the middle of a night (crawling up a hill, for a couple of hours, while the commanders are standing on the top with flashlights telling everyone they saw to start over). The next week in the army was called an "education" week.
People might think it was boring, but it was all about educating us to be better soldiers, teaching us what an illegal order is. Which orders to follow (no, you don't shoot kids with rocks, yes you do shoot people who endanger your life), which procedures we take before shooting (how to arrest someone, if the arrest fails, first shoot to the legs, not the upper body), ETC.
Basicly, it made all the criticism and mud thrown at the IDF by various human rights organisations claiming Israel teaches its soldiers to kill kids look libelous and ridiculous as it should've. The lessons finished with the story of Kfar Kassem, the only case so far in the history of the IDF where an illegal order was followed. 43 arab civilians were massacred, The soldiers who conducted that terrible crime were tried, and mostly jailed. Some of them being shamefully released from the IDF, or lowered from high ranks to "private". Basicly, we were tought about the moral obligations of an IDF soldier, and what rules of molairty and humanitarian aspects we need to follow.
The next week will be some more target practice, and then we're gonna start our MLRS course, which will be a brand new thing for us all. See you all then,

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