The Jewish holiday of Purim (March 1 this year) is a very festive time in which people wear masks and costumes as part of the celebration. However, for many of Israel’s brave soldiers, their mission is to integrate into Arab society or camouflage themselves to perform daring undercover operations. This is especially true for soldiers in the Duvdevan and Sayeret Matkal units.
“IDF soldiers serving in Duvdevan disguise themselves by wearing civilian Arab clothing to perform high-risk and complicated operations inside Arab villages,” explained Brigadier General Yehiel Gozal, to Breaking Israel News.
Gozal is CEO of Yahad-United for Israel’s Soldiers, an organization providing welfare for IDF soldiers outside of Israel’s budget.
“Those serving in Sayeret Matkal dress to blend into Israel’s landscape, like as a rock or bush, in order to gather strategic intelligence from our enemies and monitor enemy activities in order to save lives.”
These elite soldiers go through intense training to prevent exposure including how to adapt to a specific location like a grove or in the desert. They must learn how to properly blend in so as to never be detected. Soldiers must also learn how to remain silent as well as to avoid making any noticeable movements.
There is a strong connection between the IDF’s units that go undercover and the Purim holiday, according to Gozal.
The source for the holiday comes from the Book of Esther, written about a story that took place in the middle of the fourth century BCE. The book notes that Haman, a senior official in the Persian empire, planned to annihilate the Jewish people. The book recounts how the Jews were miraculously saved and that as fate would have it, the Jewish people’s enemies were decimated instead.
Of particularly noteworthy mention however, is that God is never mentioned in the entire Book of Esther. Since God is “hidden” in the Purim story, there is a predominantly held custom to dress up in costumes and reveal one’s identity on Purim. God is never mentioned in the Book of Esther because He is somewhat camouflaged in the story much like Israeli soldiers are on an undercover mission.
“Just like we don’t always see God’s actions in our lives, so to our IDF undercover forces act day and night, 365 days a year saving us from our enemies,” continued Gozal.
“As we recognize the miraculous work of these special forces, whose missions are generally top secret, we should contemplate the miracle that the Jewish people have returned to their Land and now have their own army.”
Recent events, including an Israeli F-16 being shot down by the Syrian army and the murder of innocent Israelis on the streets of the Biblical heartland, drive home the message that there are still those who desire Haman’s “Final Solution.”
“We must not take for granted that due to our devoted IDF soldiers and God, the Jewish people are surviving and thriving in Israel,” stressed Gozal.
“We know that every day our enemies seek to destroy us, and every day, in a covert way, we are saved. We might have to hide the specific work of our soldiers. But, we must publicize our support for their welfare and our pride in their bravery.”
While the Holy Land will be filled with Purim festivities, IDF soldiers must be on duty keeping Israel safe. Please show your support by donating for the welfare of IDF soldiers here.