Lone Soldier Week 17 – Raw and Rugged from Israel’s Front Lines.
It’s Sunday noon while we’re just tryin’a get our last moments of relaxation before we head out. This week is supposedly one of the hardest weeks of training, it’s ‘shavua machlaka.’ We are to be living in the ‘shetach’ (field) while learning how to fight effectively as a ‘machlaka.’ All our equipment is packed and ready to go. All too soon a small bus pulls up and we all pile in; two ‘machlaka’s plus all our bags and equipment. But we’ve done it before, it’s not that bad. We pull up a while later in the middle of the wilderness.
Minutes later, I find myself walking with this massive bag on my back, however this would be standard procedure throughout the course of the week. These bags must’ve weighed anything from twenty to thirty kilos. We reach the top of the hill, and can finally put the bags down but our ‘ephod’s (vests) gotta stay on. After a briefing from the ‘mefaked machlaka’ (commander), we got into action.
Our unit would start off raining fire on the mountain opposite, after which the two units would descend below and capture the mountain and then the next one after that. And again at night. The scene is insane. I see the tracer bullets from the ‘Mag’ (huge machine gun) tear through the mountain, and again, the laser from the ‘Negev’ (another smaller machine gun) doing the same, all through my night-vision scope. It sounds jus’ like a fireworks show.
We descend the steep mountaintop toward the narrow valley in the pitch blackness to assist with the ‘injured.’ There are many small rocks to slip, so you pray you don’t fall. Finally we finish the drill and settle down for a delicious supper consisting of your typical wartime food. Then those massive bags must once again be carried for a fair distance. I don’t recall how far we walked but it was good we stopped where we did ’cause otherwise bad things would’ve happened to my back. It’s late and freezing. At least they gave us hot tea to fill our canteens. We had our sleeping bags, so it wasn’t the end of the world.
Of course, we had guarding duty all through the night.
The Lone Soldier column is a weekly diary of a new recruit to the Israel Defense Forces following his time in service and beyond. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org