Gesher Helps Soldiers Deal With Sunday’s Attack

Gesher Helps Soldiers Deal With Sunday’s Attack

By: Asaf Adler

January 12, 2017

As Gesher’s Director of Education, I would like to share a little about this tragic week in Israel, which in turn led to a humbling week for us at Gesher. As you likely know, there was a horrible terrorist attack this past Sunday at the Tayelet Promenade. An Arab truck driver ran over a group of soldiers, killing four and injuring many more.

The group of soldiers at the attack are in the midst of their sixteen-week training course to become commanders. That day, they were beginning their “Education Week” a crucial part of every commander’s training. The soldiers were planning to continue onto a base near Jerusalem, where they would spend the rest of the week with Gesher facilitators, partaking in Gesher’s IDF Commander’s Course.

Our coordinator for the Commanders course, Shlomit, spent Sunday morning and the rest of the day texting Yael, our logistics contact for the platoon.  When Yael did not answer any of Shlomit’s texts, we knew something went terribly wrong.

Yael Yekutiel was one of the four soldiers killed on Sunday. She was a soldier serving in the IDF’s Education Corps and was Gesher’s interface for our Commanders Course.  Yehi zichra baruch; may her memory be a blessing.

On Monday, the Gesher programming for the group was cancelled so that the soldiers could attend the funerals of their comrades. That night, I received a phone call from a high-level soldier in the Education Corps. He shared their urgent need for Gesher, this week more than ever, to help these teens recover from the trauma. We were in a unique position to fill this role while helping the platoon to continue their everyday routine (crucial for moral). We spent Monday gathering our best and most experienced facilitators while preparing our programming for the following day.

On Tuesday, we met with the entire platoon of 220 cadets, sixty percent of whom were at the scene of the attack just two days earlier. This specific group of soldiers are from non-combat units. For most of them, this was their first experience with blood. On Thursday, our facilitators went to their base near Mitzpeh Ramon in order to continue the Gesher programming. Our meaningful activities and dialogue gave a framework for the soldiers to mourn on the one hand, while on the other hand, continue their everyday lives. We hope that we helped the soldiers through the trauma and encouraged them to continue with their training course.

We are truly humbled to have played a role in the unit’s recovery. This week, our IDF officer’s training course took on a whole new meaning.