Israel Defense Forces: February, 2012

February 1: Israel remembers Ilan Ramon, the first Israeli Astronaut. In 1997, Ramon was selected to be the only Payload Specialist during NASA Mission STS-107 aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia. He and his crewmates perished tragically in 2003 when the infamous Columbia shuttle exploded while re-entering Earth’s atmosphere–only 16 minutes before its scheduled landing time.

Ilan Ramon with the crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia (Picture credit:

February 5: Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel, former Chief of the IDF Planning Directorate, was appointed the new commander of the Israeli Air Force.

Major General Amir Eshel, the new IAF commmander

February 7: The IDF marks International Safer Internet Day and sent 90 officers and soldiers from the Teleprocessing Corps to schools all over the country to teach the basics of online safety to students.

February 8: To celebrate the annual Jewish celebration of Tu Bishvat, or festival of trees, IDF soldiers planted trees all around the country and used only recycled materials to help the environment. To assist the soldiers, a ‘Taglit’ Birthright group joined in on the fun.

    IDF soldiers plant trees with children in celebration of Tu Bishvat

February 20: An exercise simulating an earthquake was held in all kindergartens and schools in Israel; its purpose was to test the Israeli education system’s readiness in case of an emergency.

Home Front Command drill at hospital

February 26: Israel Highway 12 was re-opened to traffic following a temporary closure due to a deadly terror attack in August 2011. During the closure, the IDF worked intensively to achieve optimal safety conditions to re-open the road.

Terror attack on a civilian bus in Highway 12 (August 2011)

Judea and Samaria:

February 25: More than 1,200 violent Palestinian protesters participated in illegal riots in the Judea & Samaria regions. Rioters set fire to tires, blocked streets, and hurled rocks and firebombs at IDF forces, who responded with riot dispersal means. Five Palestinians were arrested in Hebron and given over to the custody of the Israeli Police.

Violent Riots in Al-Ram

Israel’s Southern Border:

This February alone, 29 rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israel. The rockets endanger over a million Israeli civilians living within firing range of the Gaza Strip.

For the second time this month, an explosive device was found along the Israeli-Egyptian border on February 23, 2012. Terrorists attempt to smuggle the explosives into Israel to carry-out terror attacks. A previous attempt was thwarted during a joint IDF-Israel Police action on Monday, February 20, 2012.