Message from CAARI’s Guide serving in the IDF

Dear CAARI Participants,
Thank you for coming on the 26th continuous CAARI program – the only program for Active Retirees in Israel. It is heart warming to see so many of you that chose to show your support by visiting and contributing to Israel in Israel.
You may have noticed that there is another guide named Rafi that is filling in for me? I serve in a reserve Paratroop Brigade that was called up during the night of 3 January a short while after the IDF began a ground offensive in wake of a surprise bombing that killed over 300 Hamas military officers in the central stadium in Gaza.
Since I have been called up we have entered a period of training. It is winter and very cold. Many items have been donated like warm polyester thermal undershirts and sox and underwear, as well as heating for the tents that we are sleeping in.
We have had several visits by well know public figures, President Shimon Peres visited us on Monday and yesterday the Chief Rabbi of Israel Rabbi Amer visited us, as well as a number of generals. The defense minister was present at one of our exercises and this past Shabbat, Parashat VaYehi, the Chief IDF Rabbi was with us for a special Friday night meal in a tent that housed the entire Battalion about 400 soldiers. Since a brigade is made up of 4 battalions we had 4 different dinner times so that the Rabbi could speak at every soldier’s dinner.
We have had a very interesting training period where we train with soldiers in their obligatory service as well. Two of the four battalions are already inside Gaza and have been photographed in the Israeli newspapers.
There are a few characteristics that have defined this was: (1) total deception. The Hamas was totally surprised at the timing of the attack. The Israeli newspapers spoke of a cabinet meeting on 28 December to decide what to do and on Saturday morning the IAF went into action and began this carefully planned operation. Another deceptive (2) move was the use of ground troops. The newspapers were talking about the government decision whether to use ground forces or not and the Hamas was surprised by the tremendous intensity of the firepower. Everybody was afraid that putting IDF troops in Gaza would not be effective but the exact opposite seems to be true. The launching areas are the periphery not in the middle of the cities. The IDF has also moved against the tunnels to try and stop the flow of Iranian weapons into the Gaza strip and there are rumors which have proven to be false so far that Shalit, the POW has been found.
What is sure is not what is in the paper but that the Iranians see the massive use of firepower AND bombs dropping from planes over Gaza that will be their fate as well. This is something that after the Lebanon war in 2006 was something that the enemy did not think Israel would resort to. This is the IDF’s attempt to reestablish a deterrent.
I do not know when this will end. But when it does I will be back as the guide for CAARI and the assistant director together with Susan.

Warmest Regards,
Nahum (Neil) Eisenstadt

The Canadian American Active Retirees in Israel, CAARI, offers active seniors a unique opportunity to experience Israel. The program is designed to explore the biblical landscapes, follow the footsteps of the early pioneers, and envision the future of our Homeland. The CAARI Program includes community service, toursa speakers forum and the camaraderie of the CAARI Family. The Program is designed for to feel, touch, hear and see Israel from the mountains to the desert, from sea to sea, and from ancient to modern.

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