In 1994, after Hizbullah bombed the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, killing 85 people and wounding more than 300, Luciano Segal enlisted in the Jewish community security service.
Born and raised in the Argentinean capital, Segal, then 16, underwent a yearlong security course and began serving as a guard for a local synagogue and school after school.
A few years later, after he had begun medical school, Segal came to Israel and underwent additional security training, eventually becoming one of the heads of security in the Jewish community in Buenos Aires.
On Thursday, Segal, now 31, will graduate from the IDF’s Medical Corps’ doctor training course and starting next week, he will serve as a doctor at the Armored Corps Shizafon Training Base near Eilat.
He started medical school in 1997 but switched to a private university three years later after his first school was plagued by constant strikes. After completing his studies, he moved to Israel in early 2009 and almost immediately enlisted into the IDF.
“This is the country for Jews,” Segal explained on Monday. “When someone calls you ‘brother,’ he means it, because he really is your brother.”
While nervous about his new posting, Segal said that professionally Israel was the right place to live as a doctor.
“There are many more options here,” he said.
Another physician completing the course with him is Dima Ragulin, 28, from Russia.
Ragulin moved to Israel a year ago without any family or a word of Hebrew. While still learning the language, he too, will head to the Negev next week to serve as a doctor at the Combat Engineer School, called Bahalaz, which is also near Eilat.
Unlike some other immigrants from Russia, Ragulin said that he never encountered anti-Semitism, perhaps because he lived in a fairly small town about 800 kilometers from Moscow where there weren’t many Jews.
“It is hard to be here without family, but there are friends and ultimately I wanted to live in the Jewish state,” he said.
The course that both Segal and Ragulin are completing this week is meant to fill the gaps the Medical Corps discovered several years ago in the number of doctors willing to join the IDF.
Approximately 50 doctors will complete the course on Thursday and most
of them will serve in infantry, armored and artillery battalions, many
of which had to make do without doctors in recent years.
The number of doctors in the army is expected to drop again in 2014, but
will then climb again a year later after the first graduates of the
IDF’s new medical school complete their studies and enlist into the