'Don't get complacent despite the pastoral surrounding'

Deputy Commander of 55th artillery regiment sums up holiday period in northern sector near Lebanese border and family visit during Sukkot.

Mordechai Sones ,

Battalion 55
Battalion 55
IDF Spokesman

Opposite the Avivim outpost adjacent to the village of Avivim sits Maroun al-Ras, which is reminiscent of the Lebanon war.

Immediately after the Northern Corps exercise, the largest IDF exercise in the past 19 years in which all IDF units trained for an emergency in the north, came the holiday season.

Fighters of Egged Battalion 55 guarded us throughout the entire period on the most deceptive border in the country - the Lebanese border.

The deputy commander of the Dragon Battalion, Maj. Tal Maman, has spent many holidays on base during his service and today, too, he spent some of the holidays of Tishrei 5768.

Major Maman, married and father of 2 from Oranit, took full command of the battalion sector and faced all the various challenges and incidents - expected and least expected - in his sector.

"Spending a holiday with the soldiers is significant, even as a battalion commander. It combines a significant operational role with a sense of satisfaction and achievement that's particularly felt during the holidays. In fact, there's almost no difference in the battalion's missions or operational activities on weekends or holidays. On holidays we increase security at tourist sites or operational weak points," says Maman.

"The main difference is in the atmosphere, for example, on Yom Kippur - the atmosphere is different, more relaxed, more festive. To fast on the day of Yom Kippur, remembering those days of the Yom Kippur War, but now, at this time - gives another meaning to the concept 'for the State'."

Every small incident, especially when there are many hikers in the area, can potentially end up as a major disruptive incident," Maman says. "Our job is to guard 24 hours a day, seven days a week on the border, over the citizens and the families. These are the sentiments that we also transmit to the soldiers. The commanders hold talks, briefings, and historical surveys on the sector that the soldiers may understand the explosiveness and sensitivity and won't become complacent despite the pastoral landscape."

The holiday of Sukkot was spent with his personal family who came to dwell among his extended family - the battalion. "My wife and children came to be with me for the holiday. It is a long and difficult journey with a 9 month old baby and a two-and-a-half-year-old girl, but it's worth every minute, it's very important to my wife and me. Otherwise, I simply don't see the children for very long periods of time. Sitting in the sukkah with the children who suddenly see soldiers with them in the sukkah is an unparalleled picture ... In each of the outposts we have in the sector we built an outdoor sukkah next to the mess hall. Of course in each sukkah is to be found the four species and everything needed for mitzvah and custom observance, and the atmosphere is like being with family and is very special."

Besides operations that don't allow the soldiers a spare moment, the forces occasionally meet with many hikers. Throughout the month of Tishrei, travelers, tourists, families, and young couples visited the green Galilee.

The deputy battalion commander concludes: "The holiday season passed quietly in our borders. The IDF and today the soldiers of the 55th Battalion in the north show presence at the border with many patrols and various activities, and we are also preparing for the day we get the order. When necessary we will also know how to wipe out any enemy who tries to harm us."



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