The past year has been a difficult one for Israel. A surge in violence against both civilians and soldiers, defined by some as a new intifada, has led to many dangerous days and sleepless nights for those tasked with defending the Jewish state. Often on the frontlines during these difficult times have been Israel’s Border Patrol, officially an arm of the police but in effect an important offshoot of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Patrolling Israel’s borders is only a small part of what they do—they frequently deal with violent riots, arrest wanted terrorists and generally act in coordination with IDF anti-terror activities.
The Border Patrol has been especially active in combating the latest terror wave, and they have been bearing the brunt of its tragic results. Dozens of their soldiers have been injured, and a few have paid the ultimate price for their vital work. A 19-year-old female Border Patrol officer, Hadar Cohen, was shot and killed as she acted heroically to prevent a major terrorist attack. Binyamin Yakubovich, also 19 years old, served in the Border Patrol and would speak in schools about the importance of defending Israelis. He was run over and killed by a terrorist in a vehicular attack.
Yashar LaChayal, a non-profit organization that provides humanitarian support to Israeli combat soldiers, has recently stepped up its support of the Border Patrol in recent months. Because a donor family pays for all of Yashar LaChayal’s operating expenses, all donations and grants to the organization can be used in their entirety for the benefit of Israeli soldiers.
Ever since the beginning of this violent period, Yashar LaChayal has begun devoting more resources to the Border Patrol. Only a month into the wave of terrorism, snacks and ice cream were distributed to Border Patrol soldiers serving in Jerusalem’s volatile Old City. However, as the violence dragged on and increased in scope, more significant donations were made.
Donations of warm winter clothing such as fleece jackets and thermal underwear were made to hundreds of soldiers. Many more were presented with exercise clothing and backpacks. A Bedouin commander who had been seriously injured in a terrorist attack was given financial assistance in order to ease the burden on his wife and young children while he remains hospitalized.
Last week, Yashar LaChayal completed one of its biggest donations to the Border Patrol: 500 water backpacks to all of its soldiers in basic training from a single enlistment! This included an entire platoon of female combat soldiers. Those serving in the IDF are provided with basic canteens, but a high-quality water backpack really enhances a soldier’s service. Better insulated than a canteen, and more accessible during training and operations, water backpacks keep soldiers well-hydrated, safe and, of course, happy.
Yashar LaChayal was joined in its efforts by partner organizations: the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County, Congregation Bnai Yeshurun of Teaneck, New Jersey, the Alexander Grass Foundation and the Helping Israel Fund. The hundreds of soldiers benefiting from the water backpack donation were moved to know that they were being looked after by supporters on the other side of the world.
While Yashar LaChayal has made contributions to combat brigades across the IDF spectrum, the donations to the Border Patrol have taken on a greater and more urgent meaning with their invaluable and dangerous work for the safety of Israelis. Yashar LaChayal will continue to ensure that the soldiers of Border Patrol are recognized for their bravery and devotion, and will work to improve their service.
To find out more about the important work being done by Yashar LaChayal, visit their website at www.yasharlachayal.org.
By Amichai Bacharach