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Hesder Hero

Yesterday, four Hizbullah terrorists attempting a well orchestrated abduction operation, were unceremoniously converted into worm food. Today, it has come to light that we have IDF Paratrooper David Markovitz to mainly thank for it.

IDF Paratrooper David Markovitz, who was recruited to the army only eight months ago, became a hero Monday when he killed four Hizbullah terrorists who attempted to abduct a soldier near the border village of Rajar.

 

Lieutenant Colonel Yaniv Elaluf, commander of the 202 paratroop regiment, told Ynet he tried to reach Markovitz on the phone to tell him how proud he is.

 

“This is exactly how I expect a troop in the paratroop division to act, and he should be congratulated,” he said.

 

Markovitz joined the army in the framework of the Hedser Yeshiva program in March 2005. He resides in the community of Gamzo, and will celebrate his 21st birthday next week.

 

The incident took place Monday during an ambush near the border crossing in the village of Rajar, which is located on the border between Israel and Lebanon.

 

“The soldiers spotted four terrorists dressed in black, and moving in an orderly fashion toward the roadblock. Behind them the soldiers noticed jeeps and motorcycles – logistic support for the abduction operation,” Elaluf recounted.

 

“The group was carrying an antitank missile, which was ready to be launched. They approached the force and at a distance of about 40 meters from the force, soldiers opened fire before the terrorists had a chance to respond,” he said.

 

Markovitz, who was the force’s marksman, “calmly conducted precise shooting. He shot, diverted the weapon, and hit all four men. The missile they were carrying blew up. Three were killed immediately, and the fourth terrorist fell on the ground, crawled for a short time and then died as well,” Elaluf described.

 

The precise shooting by the young marksman, Elaluf said, was what thwarted Hizbullah’s plan. The four men were armed from head to tow, and had they been able to get closer to the soldiers, they could have easily abducted one of them.

 

“The force functioned extraordinarily. After the terrorists were killed, fire was opened from every direction, as well as mortar shells. The company commander and his signaler, who were stationed at the nearby post were wounded, and the level of alert remained high,” Elaluf said.

 

According to Elaluf, Markovitz has only joined the regiment about a month ago with his fellow squad members, and was stationed along the volatile northern border.

 

“This was definitely an exceptional accomplishment for a soldier who was trained as a marksman, but all the other troops there operated extraordinarily, and prevented the Hizbullah sought-for attack. They were well prepared and did what was expected of them in an outstanding manner,” he said.

 

A senior IDF officer told Ynet that army sources estimate the Hizbullah strikes in northern Israel were not planned, but came as a response to the failure to abduct a soldier.

 

“They were put under pressure because of this fiasco and the desire to release their men’s bodies. They wanted to accomplish something to cover up for their failure,” he added.

I mention David’s actions, in particular – even though all of our soldiers deserve medals for bravery – because he is a testament to the efficacy and dedication of the Hesder yeshiva program (yes, Ynet mispelt it in the article). This is a program that combines high religious studies with military service. In the words of Harav Aharon Lichtenstein, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Har Etzion:

….hesder provides a convenient framework for discharging two different – and to some extent conflicting -obligations. It enables a talmid, morally and psychologically, to salve both his religious and his national conscience, by sharing in the collective defense burden without cutting himself off from the matrix of Torah…..

Earlier this year, there was talk of the IDF disbanding the Hesder army units, and dispersing the soldiers among combat battalions. While the IDF claimed the motivation was to “remove barriers between religious and secular soldiers”, many saw the timing of such a move – in the lead-up to the disengagement from Gaza – as anything but coincidental. There was a perception that the decision was motivated by concerns about the loyalty of the Hesder soldiers, who might have been called upon to do things that conflicted with religious rulings from their Rabbis.

 

Not long after announcing the proposed disbanding of Hesder units, Chief of Staff Moshe Ya’alon and Hesder yeshiva (seminary) heads reached a compromise: the disbanding plan would be tested on one infantry brigade, and only if this proved successful would it be expanded to other brigades.

 

When during the disengagement, some heads of the Hesder yeshivot called upon soldiers to refuse orders, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz reacted by suggesting that those yeshivot headed by Rabbis advocating refusal could be closed down.

 

I have many friends who have gone through the Hesder program, and I can say without qualification that besides their moral values, they are amongst the most motivated and dedicated soldiers you could find. This is manifest by the fact that many of the IDF’s top brass are graduates of the Hesder program.

 

But don’t just take my word for it. Look to IDF Paratrooper David Markovitz for further proof.

About the author

Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
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