Actors train soldiers
Actors train soldiersTamara Shavit, IDF Spokesperson's Unit

Soldiers in the IDF’s Nachal Brigade, who are about to be placed on duty in Judea and Samaria’s checkpoints, recently underwent an interesting training session which was conducted by none other than theater actors.

The session was conducted by members of a theater group called D-Theatro, and the IDF Spokesperson’s website reported that its purpose was to give soldiers a look at situations which are out of the ordinary.

“I am actually much calmer when a terrorist arrives at the checkpoint and starts shooting,” said the brigade commander Lt. Col. Israel Shomer. “This is because the soldiers have been trained for a situation like this and they know how to cope with it.”

Shomer explained that it is in fact those out-of-the-ordinary situations which require more training and necessitated what seems to be a less than conventional method of training.

The training session involved short skits in which the commanders played the key roles. Each skit presented a certain possible situation that the soldiers may encounter. Following each skit was a group discussion on how to handle the situation which was presented.

The first scenario presented was one in which an ambush is placed on a road which was hit by four Molotov cocktails within two weeks. As the marksmen lie prepared to shoot, a teenage boy arrives with a bottle and a lighter. He was offered 40 shekels if he hits a car, 50 shekels if he wounds someone, and 70 if he kills a person.

The second scenario took place at 4:05pm on a Friday afternoon with Shabbat starting at 4:20pm. The battalion has received orders to block the entrance to a Jewish community before Shabbat. A young religious Jewish man comes and tries to enter. When the soldiers block his entrance he asks: “What's wrong? I am a Jew.” As the argument escalates, he tries to attack a soldier with a screwdriver.

The third scenario involved an IDF checkpoint at the entrance to an Arab village. IDF soldiers are operating within the village, and the forces outside the village have received an order not to let anyone in or out until the end of the operation. A critically ill individual arrives, carried by a friend, begging to be let outside so he can be taken to hospital.

The D-Theatro group is made up of three actors: Erez Grossberg, Ben Rodshevsky, and Ariel Di-Castro. The three are seasoned actors who have served in the IDF’s combat units. For the last three years they have been working with the army, conducting workshops and performances with participation by the audience.

“This is a credit to the army,” Di-Castro told the IDF website of this special training. “It looks at the truth directly in the eye and says to the soldiers: It's hard for you. We understand. Now let's talk about it. Let's give you the tools to cope with it.”