Lone Soldiers Stream to Israel in Summer of Aliyah

In a strong show of faith and solidarity with Israel, Nefesh B’Nefesh, an organization founded in 2002 to make immigration to Israel easier, is celebrating bringing approximately 2,000 immigrants to the Holy Land in the summer of 2017. Included in this number are 82 future lone soldiers (Israel Defense Force soldiers without family in Israel).

“Moving to a foreign country in the Middle East is not an easy choice in the best of circumstances,” noted Dr. John A.I. Grossman, Chairman of LIBI USA, the official welfare fund of the IDF. “Taking all that upon oneself in order to volunteer for Israel’s army is truly extraordinary.”

Israel’s consul-general in New York, Dani Dayan, told the new immigrants that they represented a “mortal blows to the delegitimization of Israel”. “They take notice of it in Tehran,” he said. “When Hezbollah threatens Israel, they know that you will defeat it.”

Turning specifically to the group of future IDF soldiers, Dayan added, “You are the commanders of the Jewish people… My young friends, you are about to join the first Jewish army in 2,000 years.”

While enlistment in the IDF is a known and expected rite-of-passage for native-born Israelis, lone soldiers can face tremendous cultural and emotional obstacles. Though each lone soldier on the Nefesh B’Nefesh flight displayed a brave and excited face, LIBI USA recognizes that the road ahead for them can be lonely and challenging.

“These immigrant soldiers rarely have a full command of the Hebrew language and often have no family or friends to turn to during the holidays and time off,” continued Grossman. “Therefore, LIBI USA funds IDF educational and cultural programs as well as special holiday gifts and activities specifically for lone soldiers.”

Natan Sharansky, the chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, shared at the flights welcome ceremony, “There are anti-Semites on the right and anti-Semites on the left. Our best answer is what you’re doing. We continue to build together our home, the State of Israel.”

Hannah Partney, a 22 year-old from Connecticut, said that she was eager to join an IDF combat unit, even though she lacks close family or roots in Israel. “I’ve always been interested in military service,” she said. “I thought about the US military but ultimately didn’t go that way. I’m interested in the discipline and the challenges. I don’t want to live in Israel on a free ticket. I want to do a service. That’s really important to me.”

Joshua Eisdorfer, a 22-year-old from Rockville, Maryland, referred to the Bible, stating, “Israel is my home and birthright, and the homeland of every Jew. In Bamidbar (the Book of Numbers), Moses says, ‘Shall your brothers go to war, and you sit here?’ Israel is the defense of world Jewry, and I want to be in the vanguard.”

“The August 15 flight is particularly noteworthy as a quarter of those on board have volunteered to serve in the IDF,” continued Grossman. “That’s a humbling reality which should send a message to all of us. Each individual who cares about Israel should do their part to support the Holy Land and its dedicated soldiers.”

New Israeli Threat: Growing Use Of Terrorist Drones

Israel is increasingly suffering from a new terrorist threat; drones. A drone is a pilot-less radio-controlled aircraft used for reconnaissance or bombing enemies. Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic State and other Islamic radical all have drone programs, posing a continuous threat to Israel’s security.

Recently, a quadcopter drone from the Gaza Strip landed in southern Israel. This is one of many which have plagued the holy land in the past year. The Israel Defense Force (IDF) is responsible for finding and capturing the covert drone and research its mechanics and purpose.   

“Israel is actually a world pioneer in the use of military drones,” explained Dr. John A.I. Grossman, Chairman of LIBI USA, the official welfare fund of the IDF. “Though we are proud that Israel is a global leader in drone technology and the use of these systems to protect the Holy Land and others from terrorism, it is disheartening that Israel’s enemies are increasingly using this same system for evil.”

Israel has been using drones since the 1980’s. It is the first known country to utilize this advanced system to coordinate strikes on the battlefield.

Tal Inbar, head of the Space and UAV Research Center at the Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies in the Israeli city of Herzliya, explained to JNS.org that there are two types of developing enemy threats levied on the Holy Land, commercial drones, which are easily controlled, very accurate, and can receive clear flight paths, and the larger, fixed-wing, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which are known to be part of Hamas and Hezbollah arsenals.

Inbar shared that the Syrian Islamic State has already used commercial drones to drop a variety of explosives on targets. “If they enter a protected area, they could disrupt something like air traffic,” he said. “If you’re running Ben Gurion International Airport, and suddenly you see two to three quadcopters landing, you wouldn’t be giving anyone permission to take off or land.”

The IDF remains diligent in its fight against drones spying on Israel or even shooting rockets. “We know that Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic State and other radical Islamic groups are developing and using drones,” continued Grossman. “Some can even guide rockets that can reach a few miles away, which is a serious threat to the civilized world and certainly to Israel and keeps our IDF on full alert at all times.”

Haim Haviv, head of the Integrated Electronic Warfare Systems for Mountains Terrain program at the Israeli defense company Elbit Systems, told JNS.org, “We can say that capabilities once reserved for big organizations and militaries are now in the hands of smaller groups like Hamas, ISIS (Islamic State) and others [using] high-performance commercial drones to gather intelligence and launch strikes at people and vehicles [on the ground.]

Drones with intelligence gathering capabilities have become so commonplace that they are purchasable on eBay. Enemies can make relatively simple adaptations turning the “toy” into bomb dropping weapons. “This is what happens now,” said Grossman. “It’s difficult to control, yet, must be watched.”

Elbit sells a defensive countermeasure, called ReDrone, which can be used against terrorist drones. ReDrone detects drones through the use of sensors, and then disrupts their communications and navigational systems, blocking radio signals and satellite transmissions confusing their flight path.

Haviv believes that commercial drones will become involved more and more in security incidents. “The future battlefield is becoming increasingly complex,” Haviv said, noting that it will be filled with autonomous drones, some of which have the ability to fly like a flock of birds in formation.

“As our enemies become more sophisticated, the need to better protect and educate Israel’s soldiers also increases,” said Grossman. “LIBI USA is there to support IDF soldiers in any capacity that we are needed to ensure that Israel’s army is the best in the world.”

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