Thursday, February 11, 2010

Crisis Plan: Pre-Combat Hesder Students to Man Civil Defense

Rachel Sylvetsky
A7 News

The Civil Defense Command and Hesder Yeshiva heads have reached an agreement in which those students who are studying at the various hesder yeshivas during the Torah learning period prior to basic training, will take on civil defense roles in the event of a national crisis. Students who have already completed army training will in all probability be called up to their units in that event, and are not included in the plan.

The Association of Hesder Yeshivas will work with the Civil Defense Corps to create a list of volunteers consisting of hundreds of these students who will work within population centers in case of need. Eitan Ozeri, general manager of the Association, said: “We are proud to take part in helping Israel’s citizens during emergencies.”

A week ago, there was a meeting of Civil Defense personnel and those in charge of volunteer projects for Hesder students, at which the idea of utilizing the period before Hesder students are assigned specific army units was raised. Over 30 yeshivas sent representatives to the meeting and agreed to the plan in case of all-out war, natural disasters, large IDF operations, and similar national emergencies.

The number of Civil Defense soldiers cannot possibly meet the needs of Israel’s citizens in these situations, the Civil Defense commanders stressed. They added that Hesder students are known for their volunteer work with all facets of Israeli society during their learning periods at the yeshivas. They complimented the students and expressed high hopes for the success of the program.

Ozeri continued: “Hesder students are wonderful young men who are always ready to help others and have been doing it all along in many ways. This is another way they can be of help to Israeli society.”

Israel National News notes that during Operation Cast Lead, hundreds of students volunteered to help Israelis living in the southern areas. Once the ground offensive began, these students effectively were part of the civil defense operations. They opened new bomb shelters, repaired existing shelters, occupied those in the shelters with different activities, accompanied children to school and outings, and did whatever else was needed.

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