Pausing their drill to vote

Thousands of Nahal brigade soldiers voted in the field during a large-scale brigade drill simulating war in Gaza

Nahal Brigade soldiers vote in Israel's September 2019 elections (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
Nahal Brigade soldiers vote in Israel's September 2019 elections
They’ve been on their feet for more than 48 hours, catching a few moments of sleep in the field whenever they can, but despite that, thousands of soldiers in the Nahal Brigade took a few moments to vote in Israel’s election.
“There’s no stopping. We will vote as we train to fight,” Deputy Commander of the Nahal Brigade, Lt.-Col. Yossi Penso, told The Jerusalem Post.
And they came, full of dirt and with all of their equipment - including their ceramic vests and their helmets - to vote.
“We are doing combat voting,” Penso chuckled as we sat on the ground during a rare break in southern Israel. “Meaning, we finish our drill at another facility some 14km (8.5 miles) from here, and soldiers will be in full equipment as they vote at mobile voting stations. Then they will continue with their roles in the drill.”
Penso told the Post that he believes the ability to vote during a drill will increase the number of soldiers who vote.
“ I think the majority of soldiers will vote if the polling station is 5 meters from them. They don’t have anything else to do, it’s not like they are at home and contemplating whether to vote or not,” he said. “And when you are in a combat mentality, then your thoughts for the country and what will be tomorrow morning, and how it will bring us to peace or war, are stronger than usual.”
Sgt. Chen Oved, a fighter in the 932th Granite Battalion, told the Post that he and his fellow soldiers “were worried about how we would be able to vote during such a large exercise. But I’m really happy that the brigade took care of having polling stations come to us. We did it quickly. We voted, made an impact and then went back to fighting.”
Sergeant Liam Amit, a soldier in the 50th Bazelet Battalion, told the Post that “it’s important that even during a drill we should stop and vote. I appreciate the opportunity and right after we voted, my team and I went right back to fighting with all our might.”
The weeklong brigade-level drill began on Sunday with the participation of more than 2,000 soldiers and dozens of reservists simulating war against Hamas and other terror groups in the Gaza Strip. The drill includes intensive cooperation with the Air Force, engineering corps, logistics, artillery, the Oketz canine unit and more.
The troops trained on a variety of scenarios in the southern front and according to Penso are ready for war in the Hamas-run blockaded enclave.
“The brigade eats, drinks, sleeps, breaths, preparing for the next war in Gaza,” Penso told the Post. “We’ve been drilling every four months for the past two years to be ready for war. The Nahal Brigade is ready.”
On Monday, Haaretz reported that Netanyahu had wanted to go to war with Hamas in the Strip after rockets were fired towards southern Israel during a Likud campaign speech in Ashdod, but the plan was stopped at the last moment.