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July 30, 2020 4:42 am

In Netanya, Adults with Disabilities Help Save the Lives of Israeli Soldiers

avatar by Yaakov Lappin / JNS.org

Opinion

The IDF’s new ‘Ghost Unit’ conducts an exercise. Photo: IDF Spokesperson’s Office.

JNS.org –  A housing complex for adults with learning disabilities in Israel has begun producing a key component in a grenade that is able to withstand gunfire without detonating.

The Rimon (Grenade) Center was inaugurated earlier this month at the Kfar Idud complex in Netanya. The occupational center is named after Maj. Eliraz Peretz, who was killed in battle in 2010 by a terror cell that was planting explosives on the Gaza-Israel border.

The specially designed grenade was made by Elbit Systems. It was developed as part of technical lessons learned after the detonation of a grenade in Peretz’s possession that was strapped to his vest, and struck by enemy gunfire during the incident.

The center was opened in a moving ceremony, held earlier this month, attended by the fallen soldier’s mother, Miriam Peretz, an Israeli educator who lost two sons in combat during their service in the IDF.

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The Rimon occupational center hosts 60 residents, who, in addition to helping assemble a life-saving grenade, also package medical products, carry out basketwork, and do gardening work.

The leader of Elbit said that his company is involved with local communities, adding, “Our aim is to instill activities for residents here that will significantly contribute to national security.”

The occupational center assembles the component — which does not detonate — and it is then transferred to Elbit’s Land Division factory for further production, assembly, and quality assessment processes.

During the ceremony, Mrs. Peretz, who was awarded the Israel Prize for lifetime achievement in 2018, stated that the choice to name the occupational center after her son was an “honor for my family.”

“Eliraz was a man of giving, kindness, love, and good deeds, and so is the occupational center. It is first of all a place of love and solidarity, a place of good deeds,” she said.

On her Facebook page, Peretz wrote that the grenade — officially known as the IM type — saved the lives of “two beloved soldiers from death, despite a bullet hitting a grenade that was in their vest.”

She added that she spoke to the center’s residents about her brother, who had Down’s syndrome, “who taught me what gentleness and human sensitivity was without judgment and criticism.”

The IM grenade is a singular weapon developed by engineers at Israel Military Industries, a state-owned defense company that Elbit acquired in 2018. According to Elbit, the anti-detonation mechanism significantly upgrades the safety of the grenade. It saved the lives of soldiers during 2014’s Operation Protective Edge against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The assembly of the grenade on behalf of Israeli military industries instills the residents of the village with a sense of belonging and patriotism, despite not being drafted into the IDF, said organizers of the new center.

Kfar Idud hosts 142 residents. It was founded some 25 years ago in the heart of Netanya by a group of parents who sought to create a new home that would help their children.

Yaakov Lappin is a research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. He specializes in Israel’s defense establishment, military affairs, and the Middle Eastern strategic environment.

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