Friday, April 1, 2011

Misakem Tzevet: From the Sidelines

Misakem Tzevet, the team finale, is the runt of the three final weeks of training. Without the navigation and Krav Maga highlights of misakem prat, and minus the glorious finish that comes with misakem maslul, this middle misakem has to work to attract attention. Our commanders' response is to have us carry nearly one hundred pounds of gear on our back, and locate the four day exercise in a mosquito filled corner of the Jordan Valley. The mosquitoes were my only concern. Per doctor's orders, I was kept out of active training for the rest of the week. While my peers sweated and suffered, I packaged their food supplies in field headquarters and, despite prior warning, infected a fifth of my unit with my parasite by week's end.

At first I was crushed when the doctor informed me five hours before H-Hour that I was not cleared to participate. Adrenaline to tackle the difficult week with my peers had distracted me from my lingering stomach illness. As the testosterone faded, I found reason to embrace my medical exemption. Had I participated, my illness would have ensured that I suffered more than most in a week that does not really serve any higher purpose beyond breaking our knees and backs one step further. Not participating carries the risk of having to redo this misakem with the next draft class (August 2010 draftees), since soldiers are in theory required to complete every misakem in order to be recognized as a lohem (several soldiers from previous draft classes have joined us for our current misakmim). I have already been warned that my failure to complete the past week means I will have to redo misakem prat with the August 2010 class. These rumors mean nothing to me. I will no longer be in the army when the next draft class begins their misakmim this October. So bugger all, not doing the misakem tzevet does not carry much meaning to yours truly.

The doctor had granted me gimelim on base, a subset of the two medical exemptions a soldier can be tagged with in the army. Bettim means a soldier is unable to participate in most physical training yet he remains in the army. Gimelim is for more serious illnesses, anything contagious, and normally means a soldier is sent home to recuperate. Gimelim on base means a soldier is exempt from everything yet stays on base. I had never received a day of bettim nor gimelim in my service. So the whole system felt strange to finally be a part of.

Despite the doctor's orders, my superiors decided I would spend the week in the field, preparing equipment and covering sentry duties at the field-camp set up to manage the misakem. Boredom and bugs best describes a week I would like to forget. My only contribution to the week was, as I had warned my commanders, to pass on a milder form of my diarrhea disease to a quarter of my company.


At the end of the week I discovered that an IDF soldier was attacked less than two kilometers from the Jordan Valley field-camp I had guarded all week. The soldier was standing along Highway 90 when a Palestinian hit him over the head with a rock and tried to steal his gun. A police officer came to the rescue and shot and arrested the assailant. Combined with the rockets coming from Gaza and the horrifying terrorist attack at a bus station in Jerusalem, and there are more than enough signs to suggest the military may be taking a more active role in events in the near future.

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