Updates from the IDF

Bullets from Egypt 

On Tuesday night, an IDF officer was lightly wounded by shrapnel from a shot that was fired from the Egyptian side of the border. The officer was treated on the scene and is stable. Arab media has reported that the shot came during clashes between the Egyptian Army and smugglers, and the IDF believes the shot was in fact an accident and not a hostile provocation.     

Enemy drones 

A drone was spotted flying by the border of Lebanon and was promptly brought down by the IDF. The purpose of the drone is unclear. The Lebanese Government claimed it belonged to a Lebanese singer who was in the middle of recording a music video to be released on the anniversary of the Second Lebanese War. This explanation doesn’t explain why the drone crossed into Israeli airspace and it comes amidst a recent wave of attempted infiltrations from Lebanon.

COVID-19 in the IDF

A second wave of COVID-19 is in full swing in Israel and according to a report conducted by the IDF, it will likely stick around for a while. With the virus expected to stick around, Gabi Ashkenazi, Israel’s Foreign Minister, has openly stated that the management of the virus should be moved from the Health Ministry to the IDF. His reasoning is that the IDF is well prepared and trained to handle crisis situations as well as natural disasters – and the Homefront Command is the best-equipped unit to help Israel get over the pandemic. 

Meanwhile, the IDF has faced a spike of their own in COVID-19 cases – as of this writing their have been a confirmed 886 cases within their ranks. In addition, there are 7,558 members who are at in-home quarantine. 

 

Upcoming Events 

Many IDF exercises have been canceled recently due to the many problems that have cropped up in wake of the novel coronavirus, but there seems to be a big one in the works. This Tuesday night, the 22nd of July, a large exercise is planned in the western Galil area on the Coast. It will last through the night until Wednesday morning. There will be explosions and use of flares during the activity, whos objectives were not disclosed, and swimming will be prohibited all along the coast in the area. 

Inauguration of The 7th Aerial Special Forces Wing

This past Sunday, a historic moment occurred in the IDF with the opening of a brand new unit in the Israeli Air Force – The 7th Aerial Special Forces Wing. The new unit will serve the purpose of bringing all of the Air Forces Special Forces Units together in a more centralized unit. Until now, all of the units operated separately in the air force – but after two years of planning and setting up the infrastructure for the larger wing – the air force is ready to bring them together and streamline their work to become more effective overall. 

This change comes along as the IDF makes moves to reorganize from the bottom up in order to become more effective and lethal in the modern era. According to IAF chief Amikam Norkin, the new wing “will make our special forces more effective in battle, more influential in our aerial superiority and more a part of all the processes and scenarios taking place in the air force.” 

So what are the units that make up the 7th Aerial Special Forces Wing?

Unit 699

Unit 699 is a heliborne Combat Search and Rescue Extraction unit, highly trained and experienced in both military and civilian cases. Their responsibilities include extracting soldiers from war zones under intense fire, sailors in distress and they have even been flown out to crisis around the world to assist in search and rescue operations. 

 

Shaldag Commando Unit  

The Shaldag Commando Unit is tasked with the difficult mission of infiltrating enemy territory undetected and carrying out military operations. They participated in many operations in many wars – paving the way for success for the rest of the IDF

Frontal Landing Unit

The Frontal Landing Unit is trained in setting up ad hoc runways and landing strips outside of the airbase, including in enemy territory. Their goal is to ensure that Israel can land anywhere, anytime – giving Israel’s airforce more reach and flexibility. 

In addition to the special forces units, the new wing will also have its own dedicated intelligence unit, as well as a special forces school for training new recruits. Congratulations to the IDF on this monumental event and to many more in the future!

 

Is Israel on the Verge of All-Out War?

The big news in Israel is not that Iran attempted to send kamikaze drones into Israeli territory last week or that Israel targeted that terrorist cell in Syria; these are not completely out of the ordinary or even unexpected. Rather, what was quite the unusual occurrence took place in central Israel when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered officials from the security establishment to brief his chief rival, former Israel Defense Forces’ Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, who serves as leader of the Blue and White party.

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Things are Heating Up in Israel

Imagine trekking in the sweltering heat, with a heavy backpack strapped over your shoulders, while carrying a heavy machine gun. The comforts of home are a distant memory, as you haven’t been home in days. The uniform, a barely tolerable cotton is suffocating during these summer months, when temperatures in Israel climb to 100 degrees and beyond. 

The winter isn’t much kinder, as soldiers based in the Negev desert watch the knuckles of their fingers turn black from the early stages of frostbite. 

The long hikes, endless hours staying alert and blisters and scabs all over the body are also just another part of the daunting gig. 

This is the life of a combat soldier in the IDF. 

Of course, no soldier enlists in the army expecting it to be a comforting experience. Every one of them – whether they are a combat soldier or a grunt – knows that every minute of their service means they are potentially sacrificing their lives for the Jewish state. 

“It’s impossible to understate the sacrifices and hardships these young men and women go through everyday to protect Israel,” Dr. John Grossman, Chairman of LIBI USA, the official welfare fund of the IDF, said. 

With donations from people from around the world, LIBI USA provides Israel’s soldiers with support, education, and assistance to help ease the burden of their service.

This summer alone was a daunting one. 

Even the use of WhatsApp on their private phones is not safe. Just this week, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit admitted that Hamas operatives were posing as Israeli soldiers and sent messages to them asking for them to divulge information future drills and exercises.  

And when they’re off duty, daily life isn’t so easy either. Take a recent Jerusalem Post report, which claimed that soldiers have to wait weeks for doctors appointments and don’t receive the adequate medical care they need. 

“Although the IDF does what it can to help soldiers, they too are overburdened,” Grossman explained. “At LIBI, we want to take the weight off their shoulders and make things easier for all involved.”

To that end, LIBI helps soldiers by providing recreational centers on the base, helps organize a “fun day” for lone soldiers and helps soldiers with housing. And after university, LIBI also helps integrate Israeli soldiers into the higher education system.

All these initiatives may sound basic to a casual observer, but to a struggling soldier they really make the difference between a smooth service and challenging one. 

And, after all, wouldn’t it make sense to give a little something back to the people who give Israel everything?