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(photo credit: AP)
Predictions that a third intifada will erupt in the West Bank this summer do not frighten Lt.-Col. Guy, commander of the Givati Brigade's Reconnaissance Battalion.
But then again, he and his soldiers have served on all of Israel's four fronts in the past year - from the Gaza Strip, where they killed over 100 terrorists in the past six months; to Lebanon, where they were called up to fight Hizbullah last summer; to the Egyptian border, and, this week, at a new posting outside Jenin in the West Bank.
The only unit in the IDF to see all four fronts in a single year, the Reconnaissance Battalion is described as Givati's elite force and as responsible for single-handedly weeding out Kassam rocket terror infrastructure in the northern Gaza Strip during the operations there following the abduction of Cpl. Gilad Shalit in June.
Before Gaza - where the 100 terrorists it killed were the most among all the IDF units that participated in the operations - the battalion was stationed along Israel's fenceless Egyptian border. There, the soldiers almost daily intercepted a flow of drugs, prostitutes and weapons being smuggled into Israel from the Sinai Desert.
Now deployed for the first time in five years in the West Bank, Guy and his men are determined to succeed there, too, in fighting terrorism. If a third intifada breaks out, Guy plans to keep it isolated and prevent terror infiltrations into Israel.
"It is exciting to serve on all of Israel's four fronts in one year," Guy told The Jerusalem Post late Wednesday night as he and his troops began an urban warfare training exercise at the Lahish training base near Kiryat Gat. "I am sure we will leave our mark here, like we have left our mark in every place we served before."
"Leaving a mark," however, has come at a heavy price. During the battalion's five years in Gaza, 14 soldiers were killed in incidents that played a part in shaping government policy and the country's sentiments concerning the former settlement bloc in the Palestinian territory. One such incident was in May 2004, when six soldiers were killed after their armored personnel carrier was struck by an explosive device in the Zeitoun neighborhood in Gaza City.
The baldheaded Guy has been a part of Givati through it all - indeed, for the past 16 years. He started at the bottom and slowly climbed the ranks until he became the commander of the Reconnaissance Battalion - known is Hebrew as the Gadsar - a year-and-a-half ago. In the summer he will finish his term and he is a candidate to become the commander of an elite IDF unit.
Referring to his new mission - to prevent a terror buildup in Jenin - Guy, the father of two, says that the threats in the West Bank are different than the challenges in the Gaza Strip.
"The terror groups and the weaponry are different," he said. "Also, in the West Bank, there is daily contact with the local Palestinian population. Not like in the Gaza Strip."
Shying away from questions that tread the thin line between military and diplomacy, Guy nonetheless said he was certain that in the Gaza Strip military action could, if not completely stop Kassam rocket fire, at least reduce it to a minimum.
Referring to the Military Intelligence predictions that another round of violence with Hizbullah and Hamas could erupt in the summer, Guy said it is the IDF's job to be prepared for all possible scenarios.
He stressed, though, that he saw the military's job as being more than just killing the enemy. Paraphrasing from military theorist Sun Tzu's masterpiece The Art of War, Guy said: "War is a continuation of negotiations although with force. We hit the enemy and conquer land so we can bring the other side to the table and have a dialogue."