Last week I had the privilege of speaking at Yeshivat “Migdal HaTora” in Modi’in. The subject of the matter was Operation “Protective Edge” in Gaza and my experience throughout the summer.
The interesting part was trying to explain army “lingo” to American youth, which drew more questions in follow up. There was a seemingly keen interest in the IDF, yet certain misconceptions about what the demands were, I decided to try and give a bit of insight into various IDF Units over the next months to the best of my ability and the IDF Censor’s permission and supplement them with pictures I have had the privilege of shooting over the years.
The Paratroopers (Tzanchanim):
The IDF Paratroopers are considered a “Specialized” infantry brigade, due to their airborne capability of parachuting behind enemy territory. In today’s IDF they stand out mostly in their slightly different uniforms (blouses) and rich heritage but when looking objectively at missions they are tasked with, there is no difference between Tzanchanim and any of the other regular IDF Infantry Brigades (Golani, Givati, Nahal) when it comes to assignments.
One of the reasons the Tzanchanim Brigade is sought after more by IDF conscripts is their illustrious history which dates back to before the State of Israel was established. The first Paratroopers were volunteers from the “Old Yishuv” that joined the British in 1943 and parachuted into Nazi occupied Europe, among them Hanna Szenes. During Operation Sinai in 1956 the Paratroopers jumped into the Mitla Pass and helped take the Sinai, in 1967 they liberated the Old City of Jerusalem, in 1973 the fought at the “Chinese Farm” and they were part of the Entebbe Rescue.
The Tzanchanim are considered highly motivated since it is the only infantry brigade in the IDF which is a voluntary unit. Potential conscripts must request an “evaluation day” to be considered for the Brigade. The “evaluation day” includes a PT drill to evaluate your baseline physical capability and a rigorous day of physical drills along with a basic evaluation of mindset of each person.
Those chosen will undergo 6 months of basic infantry training in the Brigade’s dedicated base near Lehavim in the South (affectionately known as the “Luna Bach”) which replaced its older base near Shechem (Nablus). Towards the end of basic training 3 weeks of “Paratrooper School” commence at Tel Nof. There the new recruits learn basic Combat Parachuting skills and perform 1 training jump and 4 combat jumps with full gear including a night jump in order to qualify and receive their Parachutist Wings.
The Tzanchanim’s slogan is “אחרי לצנחנים” (follow me to the paratroopers), as such there is a certain family pride within the ranks and for many Paratroopers it is a family tradition. One of the more notable father-son combos is recently retired Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and his son Nadav.
This post as well as pictures are approved by the IDF Censor more pictures can be viewed here – https://www.facebook.com/yruasphoto
Paratrooper trademark red boots
IAF C-130H making a drop