Sun. May 26th, 2024

ISRAEL’S rank and file heroes, men and women alike, vowed to avenge the 1,400 victims of the Hamas bloodbath, roaring: “Bring it on.”

Among them was one young soldier wearing a T-shirt tribute to his commander — who was beheaded by the savages.

GettySmoke rises in different regions of Gaza as Israelis conduct the most intense air attacks on the 21st day in Gaza Strip[/caption]

Ian WhittakerNiv Vokhin, 21, wearing a T-shirt tribute to his commander[/caption]

Israel has more 169,000 soldiers, plus 465,000 reservists, some 2,200 tanks and almost 650 planes

The Sun on Sunday met young Israeli squaddies, many barely out of their teens, along the Gaza border as they prepared for yesterday’s blitz of the Hamas strongholds.

All stressed they were up for the fight — and determined to make the terrorists pay for their atrocity.

Female recruits Yuval, 21, and Limor, 24, underlined the mixed nature of the Israeli military, in which 20 per cent of combat troops are women.

Limor said: “We are ready – everyone is ready. If we have to fight, we will.”

Countless Israelis have a personal reason to take the fight to Hamas, including Niv Vokhin, 21. 

He was wearing a white T-shirt commemorating his commander, Captain Raz Perets, of the elite Golani Brigade, who was one of those killed in the October 7 attacks.

The crack infantry unit was formed just before Israel was founded in 1948 and has fought in every war the country has been engaged in, including this one.

Niv said he could not wait for the fight to begin as he revealed that Capt Perets was not just murdered by Hamas savages. 

Drawing a finger across his neck he said: “I saw his body, it had no head. Now I am going to avenge him.”

His pal Ori Shely, 20, was with him and also enjoying down time at a pop-up military burger joint before the major assault was launched on Gaza on Friday night.

He said: “I love burgers, I’ll look like one soon — but the time for joking will soon be over.

“I feel terrible about what happened. I had four friends who were killed that day.

“But we don’t allow ourselves time to think about that now. We are too busy concentrating on how we will respond.”

The temporary restaurant is one of many that have sprung up for troops called up at such speed they had no time to pack supplies. 

Launched by ex-military pilot Nel Radel, 58, it is run by 100 volunteers, who call themselves The A Team.

Nel jokes that he is now running Israel’s biggest burger restaurant. It dishes up 20,000 meals a day.

He said: “My friend who I’ve known since I was eight died in the attack. It was a slap in the face and reminded us we’re surrounded by people who want to kill us.

“Our military will not take that lying down — and our burger bar is just one small way of helping them win the fight.”

We also met a tank commander being driven back to the front by his wife Tal, 25, after enjoying a 24-hour pass with his family.

The mum of two said: “It was so nice to have him home even for just a day. We didn’t want to give him back, but we had to, for Israel.” 

She added: “October 7 was so shocking. Not in our wildest nightmares did we think something so awful could take place but we’re finding strength wherever we can.”

Israel suddenly feels like a militarised society. 

Every service station and roadside cafe is now packed with soldiers, all on their way to the front, or on manoeuvres.

They all have an M16 or similar weapon slung over their shoulders.

On the road north to Lebanon where a battle with Hezbollah fanatics is looming as well, Ora Beran is also helping to run a vital pop-up feeding station.

Landscape architect Ora, 58, whose family hails from Glasgow, said: “It all happened so quickly after October 7 that a lot of soldiers grabbed what they needed and left home.

“They didn’t even have time to get some food together. Every good Jewish mother makes sure their child has food and this is just what we are doing.”

At a post on the Israel-Lebanon border soldiers spoke of the wait to fight Hezbollah forces. One, dressed in army issue boots and trousers, was working out in a gym.

Its boss, Garik, 65, said: “My home village is right on the border. I can see Hezbollah flags from my window.

“No one thinks there is any chance of a peace agreement so people are scared to return homes.

“Everyone has left but we kept the gym open so soldiers can train for free.

“All I want is to live in peace and watch my granddaughters grow up. But I have no idea if I will ever be able to do that.”

Along the border, infantry units have set up camps in woods.

Humvees packed with soldiers patrol the towns and villages and Merkava tanks with a 120mm cannon and remote-controlled roof mounted machine guns are now stationed in previously peaceful communities.

National Service is compulsory in Israel. All men serve a minimum of two years and eight months, and women two years, with some religious exceptions.

There are 169,000 soldiers, plus 465,000 reservists, some 2,200 tanks and almost 650 planes.

That compares to Hamas’s estimated 35,000 fighters and depleted stockpile of rockets.

The numbers instil in the soldiers a sense of confidence typified by Adiel Nogarky, 24, as they prepare to storm Hamas He said: “Will Israel be victorious? 

“That is not even a question. The answer is so clear to us that we do not consider it.”

GettyIsraeli soldiers give thumbs-up as they move near Gaza border[/caption]

Ian WhittakerMore troops head to take on Hamas terrorists[/caption]

GettyPalestinian searches bombed Gaza building[/caption]

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