Coming back to the army after my two week holiday with my parents over the new year period was actually a lot easier than I had thought it would be. I received a warm welcome back from all my friends and commanders alike, which really meant a lot to me and shows that my newly formed friendships have really stuck. I didn't have much time to settle in though, because within half an hour of coming back I was already cleaning toilets as part of company duties!!!
Posing on base with my dog tags worn in the opposite direction - a sign showing I am halfway through my service!!!
The main thing that happened in this latest '17' was a very serious incident that occurred on the first Shabbat. Once again, I am not overstepping any boundaries here, mainly because this incident was so serious that it was well publicised worldwide, and I even got many facebook messages from friends back home, checking to see if I was OK. Two Friday nights ago, during an incident on the border, Nadav Rotenberg, a soldier from battalion 202, was killed. The fact that an Israeli soldier was killed is obviously a massive deal and it affected everyone immensely on base, and in Israel, in general. Without going into details of what exactly happened, I think it's vitally important to mention how terrible it is that a young boy has lost his life in the defence of our country and in the fight against those who want to destroy it. While some people will talk about the consequences of his death and what it means for the future of the current (relatively) peaceful border with Gaza, I think it's better to focus on what it means for his friends and family. The funeral, no doubt, was filled with many tzanchanim who served with him, who then went back to 'kav' with one man less. While the shivah has long since finished and his parents are slowly getting used to life without their son. It angers me to think that Israeli parents are still losing their sons, aged young as 19 and 20, all because there are those who can't accept that all we want is a land of our own. I never like this blog to be a political rant but sometimes I need to get across what I'm thinking.
Eating pizza with friends on base.
It was very difficult to explain to my mum (and now to you) why, despite that great tragedy, things carried on like normal almost immediately. Israel remembers and commemorates those who have passed away in the long struggle for our cause better than any other country in the world. I can give you countless examples of how I have personally experienced this since being in Israel; like how the army sends soldiers to the memorial days of every single soldier who has fallen in service, or the extreme solemness that is Holocaust memorial day. However, despite all this intense remembrance, Israel has developed a culture, whereby people are almost immune to tragedy, thus, explaining the 'tough' Israeli. This may because the suffering and tragedy of Jews has been common throughout history and, consequently, we have tragically become used to it. Or, which is what I think, the constant threat of our neighbours means that we are unable to stop for a minute and be sad, as the work of securing our borders safely for the citizens of Israel can never stop. This explains how even after everything that happened on that Friday night; on base, things just carried on like normal.
My Tottenham towel proudly hangs in my room on base.
It's hard to move away from a subject like that, but the '17', like I said, carried on as normal. In fact, it was one of the best 17s I have had so far, partly because I only did one full day of company duties and not one day in the kitchen!!! The day before we went home, we were scheduled to have a fun, bike ride for all the platoon. For those of you who don't know, for some reason I have never successfully learnt how to ride a bicycle and I then had to embarrassingly explain this in front of my whole platoon. My platoon commander said "it'll be fine", a common response in the army to any sort of problem, however, by the end of the day the whole company knew of my incapability to ride a bike, and I even had the deputy company commander offering to teach me!!! In the end, the bike ride got cancelled and we played football instead, so I got away with it...
I am back in the army on Sunday; the reason why my four days home has been cut down to three is rather interesting though. I have been chosen to do a special course of navigation, with elite paratroopers. The reason why I am doing this is because my platoon commander wants me to be his spearhead sharpshooter (even I have to admit how cool that sounds), so it should be a very interesting week. Until next time...