Israeli youth ‘aren’t familiar enough with the land’

Brigadier-general says IDF recruits need to spend more time outdoors

January 2, 2017 18:00
2 minute read.
IDF elite unit training day

IDF elite unit training day. (photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)

Israeli youth are not familiar enough with the land and that is affecting the army, Military Secretary Brig.-Gen. Eliezer Toledano said on Sunday during a conference held at the Kfar Etzion Field School.

“Only when we are familiar with the land of Israel can we properly connect to the land and know how and why we need to protect it,” he told the crowd of over 200 people.

Toledano is a former brigadier commander who led Operation Brother’s Keeper, the search to find the three missing Israeli youth kidnapped and murdered by Hamas terrorists in the summer of 2014.

According to Toledano, the army must view hiking tours as valuable training exercises which allow the soldiers to learn and familiarize themselves with the land.

“One of the lessons we learned from Operation Brother’s Keeper was that our soldiers suffer greatly from their lack of familiarity with the land. I therefore decided to start a scouting course for paratroopers. The course lasted approximately four weeks, and aimed to produce professional scouts who would be able to help company commanders work more efficiently,” he said.

“We cannot completely close the gaps between our soldiers and the area around them, but we can minimize the gaps as much as possible,” Toledano added.

Kfar Etzion Field School Director Yaron Rosenthal, who helped lead the search for the missing boys, said that the only reason they succeeded in finding the bodies of the missing boys was because of their familiarity with the landscape.

“Only because we were so familiar with the landscape, and we were good scouts, did we succeed in finding the boys. We saw a suspicious area, which looked as if it had been disturbed, and we concentrated our efforts there. That’s how we found the boys’ graves. We might have continued searching for several more days, had we not properly trained our scouts in school,” he said.

Maj.-Gen. (res.) Uzi Dayan echoed Toledano, saying, “Most of the youth are not connected to the land. They spend much more of their time on smartphones. But we can’t complain, that’s the way the world works.”

Dayan told the crowd of a conversation he had with a mother in Ramat Gan, who told him that the only nature her children is exposed to is from the National Geographic channel on television.

“We need to find ways to connect our children to their surroundings and their land. Parents need to take much more responsibility for their children, and this is true for the educational system as well. We need to create a situation in which the youth is much more connected to and familiar with the land and the landscapes around them,” Dayan said.

“Children need to know their country and not be strangers in their own land,” he added.

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