2011: The Greatest Events

January:  Security Forestation Project Begins

The Strategic Security Forestation Project was launched to contribute towards the safety of Israel’s southern communities. Its goal was to plant new trees and relocate existing ones so as to shield the towns from rocket fire and help obscure their location. The event was chaired by GOC Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Tal Russo: “The project launched today reflects the brave connection to the communities surrounding Gaza, and allows us to next another step in fulfilling our mission – defending the southern communities, with added environmental benefits”.

Forestation Project

GOC Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Tal Russo, planting the first tree with Israeli children.

  February: Appointment of the 20th IDF Chief of the General Staff

Maj. Gen. Benny Gantz was appointed the 20th IDF Chief of the General Staff and promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General. He replaced Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, who served as Chief of the General Staff during the last four years. Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz is married and a father of four.

Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz

Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz joining soldiers in the field during a military exercise.

March: “Victoria” Weapons Smuggling Ship Intercepted + Iron Dome System Deployed

Soldiers of the Israeli Navy intercepted the “Victoria“, a ship headed from Syria to Egypt, with enormous amounts of weapons  onboard, all intended for use in the Gaza Strip. These weapons included over 2,500 mortar shells, advanced radar systems and six ready-to-fire C-704 anti-ship missiles, which boast a range of 35km.

During the same month, the first “Iron Dome” missile defense system battery was deployed in Israel’s southern region. “Iron Dome” helps combat the threat of rocket fire directed at Israel’s southern communities. The “Iron Dome” batteries are on an active rotation, capable of being relocated to cities and regions as necessary.

April:  IDF Aid Delegation to Japan Returns Home

After two tedious weeks of working around the clock to provide medical care to the Minamisanriku residents hurt by a massive tsunami, the IDF aid mission returned home. The mission included a team of specialists from the Medical Corps, experts from the Search and Rescue Units, as well as logistics and communications personnel.

The majority of the medical equipment brought by the IDF will remain in Japan. The X-ray machinery and lab tools will benefit the physicians and local authorities providing care to the locals.

May:  Investigation of Itamar Terror Attack Concluded

The investigation into the Itamar terror attack – the murder of Rabbi Ehud Fogel, his wife Ruth and their three children, Yoav, Elad, and Hadas – was concluded. Lt. Gen. Gantz, who ordered the investigation, viewed its findings and ordered to heighten security measures in the area. The terror attack in Itamar, which saw the brutal and premeditated murder of small children with their parents, was considered one of the most violent attacks in recent years.

In addition, IDF forces faced violent riots by the Palestinian population in Israel and Syria during “Nakba Day”, shortly followed by “Naqsa Day”, in which damage was caused to the border security fence.

June: Israeli Army Celebrates First-Ever Female Major General

Maj. Gen. Orna Barbivai, the first woman in the IDF to be promoted to this rank, becomes Commander of the Manpower Directorate. Her rank is the IDF’s second-highest, directly reporting to Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, the IDF Chief of Staff. Maj. Gen. Barbivai has served in the IDF for 30 years, devoting her entire military career to the directorate. She is the second woman to serve in the General Staff.

Maj. Gen. Orna Barbivai

Maj. Gen. Orna Barbivai being awarded her new rank.

July: Five Years since the Second Lebanon War

  Israel marks five years since the Second Lebanon War. The war was triggered by the killing of three Israeli soldiers during a routine patrol on the Israel-Lebanon border, in which Hezbollah kidnapped  two of the three bodies. It lasted 34 days and ended with the signing of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, which Hezbollah has since systematically violated.

August: Terror Attack in Southern Israel, Eilat 

During August, Israel was rocked by several consecutive terror attacks in its southern region:

–       A group of approximately 12 terrorists opened fire on a bus headed to Eilat, an Israeli resort city near the Israel-Egypt border

–       Seven minutes later a bomb was detonated near an IDF patrol along the Egyptian border

–       An anti-tank missile was fired at a private vehicle, killing four civilians.

Eight people were killed from the attacks – six civilians, a police officer and a soldier. Military sources suspect involvement of the Popular Resistance Committee (PRC), a Gaza-based coalition of Palestinian terrorists.

These attacks tie in directly with the rockets fired at Israel from Gaza. As of December 29h, there have been 627 rockets and mortars fired at Israel in2011.

Eilat bus

The bus headed to Eilat which was destroyed by a terror attack.

September: Murder of two members of the Palmer family

Asher Palmer and his eight-month-old son were murdered while traveling near Hebron on Friday, Sept. 23rd. Four terrorists are suspected, including Ahmed Awad, who was involved in the murder of the Fogel family in March.

October: Gilad Shalit Returns to Israel

On October 18th, Sergeant First Class Gilad Shalit was returned home to Israel and his family after 1,941 long days in enemy captivity. SFC Shalit was abducted by Hamas terrorists on June 25th2006 in a cross-border raid that killed two Israeli soldiers and injured three more. He was released in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian and Arab-Israeli prisoners, 280 of whom were serving life sentences for planning and executing various terror attacks. The released prisoners were collectively responsible for the murder of 569 Israeli civilians. Gilad has since returned to his family home in Mitzpe Hila, where he was greeted by hundreds of supporters celebrating his arrival.

SFC Gilad Shalit

SFC Gilad Shalit returned home to his family after five years in captivity.

November: “Tahrir and Saorise” Flotilla Peacefully Intercepted

Israeli Navy Soldiers peacefully boarded two vessels headed for the Gaza Strip attempting to break the maritime security blockade that is in effect. The vessels were notified several times of the legality of the blockade and were advised to turn around or sail to the port of Ashdod, where their cargo could be legally transferred into Gaza. After the activists ignored all warnings, soldiers of the Israeli Navy boarded the two ships, taking every precaution to ensure the safety of those on board. The activists were transferred to the custody of the Israel Police and immigration authorities.

December: 163rd IAF Flight Academy Course Graduates

The 163rd graduation ceremony of the IAF Flight Academy was held on December 29th2011. Among the graduates were five female pilots, the highest number to every graduate at once, each of which will be specializing in a different field.

5 female pilots graduate pilots' course

The five female pilots who graduated the IAF Flight Academy course.

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