IDF Honors International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Today, January 27, 2012, the IDF honors the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Designated by the UN General Assembly in 2005, this day marks the liberation of the Nazis’ biggest and deadliest death camp: Auschwitz-Birkenau. In this death camp an estimated 1.6 million Jews were systematically murdered, out of the six million murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust.

Railway leading to the death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau

Railway leading to the death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau

The Israeli state was founded to function as a home for the Jewish people. After the Holocaust, the need for a Jewish state grew bigger, and Israel was founded. The IDF — Israeli Defense Forces — is the Israeli army, and its purpose is to protect and defend Israel and its citizens. It serves as a functioning military which will thwart any attempt to harm Israeli civilians. In addition, the IDF draws inspiration from many significant events of the Jewish and Israeli history, among which are all those who fought against the Nazi regime and its inhumane cruelty.

IDF Chief of the General staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz visits holocaust survivors

IDF Chief of the General staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz visits Holocaust survivors

Many activities are being carried out throughout the year to commemorate the memory of the Holocaust, from weekly volunteer work with survivors to Witnesses in Uniform, a special program in which IDF officers and soldiers go on educational trips to Poland to learn more about their history and about the Holocaust. Furthermore, any foreign general on an official visit to Israel must pay a visit to Israel’s Yad Vashem, the world center for documentation, research, education and commemoration of the Holocaust.

During September 2003, three fighter jets flew above Auschwitz — only this time they were IAF jets, symbolising the revival of the Jewish people and saying out loud to the whole world: “Never again“.

“The message that we bear with us”, says Col. (Res.) Avi Maor, one of the six pilots and navigators that took part in the flight, “is that we and the State of Israel are alive and strong enough to ensure that something like this will never happen again. An entire generation is gone, for many of them there was not even someone left to say ‘Kadish’. This is the debt that we owe them, the six million who perished there”.

Posted in Airforce, Ceremonies & Celebrations, IDF General Staff | Tagged , , , , , ,

From the Heavens: First Live Parachuting Drill in 15 Years

Since the IDF’s very first battles, the Paratroopers Brigade played a vital part in maintaining Israel’s security. The brigade’s history is considered legendary, and comprises several retribution operations, parachuting into the Mitla Pass, special operations, the Battle of Ammunition Hill and the release of the Western Wall during the Six Day War (1967).

First Operational Parachuting Drill in 15 Years

First Operational Parachuting Drill in 15 Years

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Posted in Facts & Figures

The Natural Detectives: Desert Reconnaissance Battalion

The Desert Reconnaissance Battalion (Hebrew: “Gadsar”) is unique in many regards. It’s comprised almost entirely of Bedouin soldiers and stationed near the Gaza Strip, where its soldiers use their unique skills to track terrorists and thwart infiltration attempts into Israel. How? They use their special tracking skills – abilities that would take years to learn for a soldier who didn’t grow up in the Bedouin lifestyle.

Desert Reconnaissance Battalion at Special Training

Desert Reconnaissance Battalion soldier at special training

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Posted in Facts & Figures

Maximum Efficiency at Minimum Risk- Showcasing IDF’s Skylark UAV

UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) have a long history of development dating back to Nikolas Tesla in 1915. Concerned about losing pilots over hostile territory, the United States and Israel pioneered much of the UAV technology we see today.

Nowadays, UAVs are controlled from a remote location (even thousands of kilometers away), while others fly autonomously based on pre-programmed flight plans. They are optimal for surveillance and reconnaissance but have other purposes as well, like transport, search and rescue and even commercial uses such as firefighting.

The drone featured in the video is the Skylark I-LE, specially modified by the IDF and chosen for its lightness and extraordinary stealth. Click to read more about the Skylark I-LE.

Posted in Airforce, Facts & Figures, From the Field

Lock and Load – An Inside Look at an IDF Weapons Instructor

It’s a well known fact that the IDF trains some of the best soldiers in the world, but at the source of every good soldier lies an exceptional instructor – and that’s where Cpl. Daniella Stepanoe steps in. Originally born in Israel, she moved to California as a teenager before finally returning to Israel to serve with the IDF. Since then, she has risen through the ranks of the military to become a weapons instructor, and now travels from base to base training everyone from paratroopers to elite special forces units in the use of their weapons. In this video, she talks about what it’s like to serve as a weapons instructor, and takes some time out to show off her skills.

Posted in Facts & Figures