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Bibi, it’s cold outside – and so are our soldiers

Yes, soldiers are expected -- and expect -- to suffer, but is hypothermia really necessary?

More than 5,000 homes across the country are without electricity, the roads to Jerusalem are blocked, and the snow in Jerusalem is expected to reach 20–30 cm. Current forecasts maintain that the bitter cold will continue through early next week.

Prime Minister Netanyahu has repeatedly spoken of his admiration for our soldiers and his appreciation of the sacrifice that they and their parents make to keep us safe.

Yet, many of our soldiers lack the proper gear to keep them warm and dry. And as a nurse, I can tell you that given current conditions, many of them will suffer from hypothermia.

“We are cold because we lack warm clothing,” soldiers told Boaz Golan of the 0404 news portal, “What they give us is far from enough. I don’t understand the army’s conduct on this issue. We are far from ‘chocolate [spoiled]’ soldiers. We have major fighters [combat soldiers] here. Why do they have to suffer from cold?”

As Netanyahu rightly stated on Tuesday in a reference to the approaching storm, “We have three tasks: first — saving lives; second – maintaining essential services; third — encouraging residents to help other residents.”

Do our soldiers not come under the heading of “essential services?”

A year ago, my daughter began her IDF basic training just as the historic storm was about to hit. To our joy, her commander let her out on her first Shabbat with orders to purchase the best thermal underwear money could buy. My daughter was told that she could save her receipt for future reimbursement.

The “cabanit,” a female mental-health officer who was also in charge of social welfare issues, approached soldiers who were listed as unable to afford thermal underwear at Israel’s grossly inflated prices. She handed out cash with which they could purchase the “gatkes” which I still envy.

We lack enough words to thank those here and abroad who contributed the money to keep our soldiers warm.

But what of the parents of the sons and daughters who are suffering in the cold? Do they have to add hypothermia to the list of things that keep them awake at night? Surely an army that can afford Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II single-seat, single-engine, all weather stealth multi-role fighters – can afford fleece sweatshirts and snow suits for our children.

Until they pony up, vote in the next election like their lives, fingers, and toes depend on it, and keep sending money for underwear.

About the Author
Varda Spiegel was Nurse-Director of the Bedouin Mobile Unit of the Negev, later serving as Maternal-Child Health Director for the Ministry of Health Jerusalem District. I am a grandmother, mother, and beachbum.
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