Due to its location, the Menashe Regional Council has become a focal point for concerns about the potential infiltration of illegal residents or terrorists from Judea and Samaria who may pose a threat to Israeli citizens. In response to this security risk, heightened measures have been implemented since October 7 to fortify all local communities.
The Menashe Regional Council has significantly strengthened its preparedness by mobilizing both local civilian units and reserve forces, fostering a sense of collective responsibility. The proximity of the Menashe Regional Council to the Green Line necessitates a strategic and vigilant approach to security. By proactively addressing potential threats and fostering collaboration between local civilians, law enforcement, and the military, the council aims to create a resilient defense system. The commitment to enhanced preparedness reflects a collective determination to safeguard the well-being of Israeli citizens in the face of evolving security challenges.
Meet the dedicated individuals safeguarding our communities in this region - the Search and Rescue (SR) Brigade.
The SR Brigade is a specialized force trained for unique search and rescue missions, both domestically and internationally. Soldiers undergo rigorous training in combat, search and rescue operations, and handling ABC (atomic, biological, chemical) warfare situations.
Every morning, the staff at the Hadera-Eiron Partnership office are welcomed by soldiers who have been stationed since October 7 guarding Katzir, one of the 24 communities in the Menashe Regional Council. The warm greetings from these soldiers as we come and go uplift our spirits and enhance our sense of security. This week, we had the privilege of getting to know a few of them better, and we're excited to share their stories with you.
Eve, clad in brown combat boots with long wavy hair, was knitting a sweater for her brother during our conversation. Originally from Los Angeles, this 25-year-old made aliyah 13 years ago and now resides in Ra'anana. Due to begin fashion school in Milan next year, her knitting prowess suggests she's bound for success! Having served in Bardelas Brigade as a fighter and as a medic during her primary army service, Eve was drafted to the reserve forces after October 7. Assigned to the Search and Rescue Brigade of the Home Front Command, she's among a group of reserve force soldiers who willingly volunteered to stay drafted, ensuring the area's protection while the rest of the brigade takes leave.
Naor, 23, and Ilan, 26, also serve in the SR during reserve duty. They are third-year computer science students at Ben Gurion University and Bar Ilan University, respectively. With the delay in the start of the school year, they're able to fulfill their duties without missing classes, at least for the time being. Before their current assignment, they secured Pardes-Hanna Karkur's schools, contributing significantly to the residents' sense of security.
Anat, 25, seen guarding the gate in Katzir, is from Rehovot and would have been starting her third year of nursing school in Ashkelon if not for the war. Despite a previous exemption due to a no longer relevant physical condition, she volunteered for reserve duty upon learning her friends were drafted. Now, she acts as the "mama" of the group, ensuring her fellow soldiers are cared for and well-fed. Recalling the alarms on October 7, she immediately contacted her boyfriend, whom she met while serving together in the Bardelas battalion and now lives in Portugal. "Since his mother lives here, I called to let him know what is going on. A few days later he reported here for reserve duty as well, but he was stationed somewhere else".
Or, the officer overseeing this region, shares a special connection with Katzir. He nonchalantly sat in the break room with his son on his lap, watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on his phone when asked if it was "bring your kids to work day." Surprisingly, he revealed that he lives in Katzir with his wife and little boy, making his role a literal defense of his home. Battalion 5703, responsible for the Hadera – Pardes-Hanna Karkur area, has been tirelessly training and guarding Harish and Katzir since the war's onset. These soldiers, volunteering until mid-December, hail from various locations, emphasizing the importance they place on helping and safeguarding civilians. When not on duty, Or owns and operates "Galron," a metals and aluminum business in Hadera. Despite the challenges, he remarks, "It fills the heart to the fullest capacity, to keep your home safe," as his toddler Ilay laughs in agreement.