This past year was full of many challenges for the IDF. Our soldiers faced many threats, from terrorist agents on Israel’s borders to rocket fire targeting civilians. Here are some of most remarkable stories of 2012, as reflected upon by our soldiers.
1. Cpl. Lolly took an active part in defending Tel-Aviv from incoming Hamas rockets during Operation Pillar of Defense. Lolly, a lone soldier who was born in France, was stationed at the Iron Dome battery in charge of defending Tel-Aviv skies during the Operation. Lolly protected the lives of over 1.5 million Israeli citizens during the eight days of the operation, as she operated the Iron Dome system and intercepted incoming rockets threatening the city.
“From the minute I heard about the Iron Dome system, it was clear to me that is where I’ll serve, taking an active part in protecting the lives of Israeli citizens.”
2. Lt. Col. A was responsible for bringing back the bodies of Israeli casualties from the terror attack in Bulgaria. Being responsible for the aid delegations sent by the IDF abroad, Lt. Col. A sent out the IDF delegation to Bulgaria this year and brought home the bodies of those killed in the bus bombing, orchestrated by Hezbollah.
“ As an Israeli citizen and an IDF soldier, I see myself obligated to every person in need — whether he’s Israeli or not. Our commitment to people in need is not a national one, but a universal one. We will be there, regardless of how many planes or doctors may be required.”
3. Cpl. S prevented a major terror attack when she stopped terrorists who infiltrated Israel from the Sinai Border. Her battalion, the co-ed combat unit Caracal, is charged with guarding the Egyptian border. Cpl S’s bravery was unparalleled in the field and recently won her a medal of valor. Tragically, during the attack, Cpl. Netanel Yahalomi was killed.
”At that moment … there was no time to hesitate. All you want is for everything to end well. We’re proud, but also mourn Netanel’s death. He is the true hero.”
4. Cpl. Yaakov Toumarkin was a finalist in this year’s London 2012 Olympics, in addition to being an IDF soldier. Cpl. Toumarkin, who serves in the Israeli Air Force, worked hard to combine his military service with his athletic career, but his efforts paid off when he cinched the 7th place in the in backstroke swimming finals.
“Serving in the IDF is an integral part of serving the country. I serve my country by swimming in international competitions, and by proudly wearing the Israeli Air Force uniforms.”
5. Captain Ziv Shilon lost a hand after a Hamas-planted bomb exploded on him during patrol — but didn’t give up. An IDF company commander, he was injured during a routine patrol on the Gazan Border when an explosive went off, mangling his right hand. Even after the terrible injury, Captain Shilon promised his soldiers he’ll rehabilitate and will return to the field.
“I’m getting better every day. I’ll return to my old self and I’ll make it back to the field. You have to stay optimistic. There’s always something to give you hope, a small corner of light at the end of the tunnel. It’s something you understand during combat service. When you’re at the 79th kilometer out of an 80 kilometer journey, you start counting the trees around you. When you get to the 100th tree, you know you made some progress. It’s the same with the injury. It’s a journey, a very long journey.”