Shachar Kabuli from Beersheba, was on the wrong side of the rocket fire during Operation Pillar of Defense. She hid with her family in fortified rooms and woke up to the sound of air raid sirens.
But Kabuli is now moving from defense to offense by enlisting in the Israel Defense Forces' Air Defense Command. There, she will attempt to become an Iron Dome combat operator.
Iron Dome battery deployed in Tel Aviv area
Enlistment in the Air Defense Command includes operating the Hetz (Arrow) anti-ballistic and Patriot surface-to-air missile defense systems.
However, there is no doubt that the icing on the command's cake is operating the Iron Dome system, which drew praise in light of the impressive achievements it has had since its inception.
Kabuli, 18, knew ahead of time that she wanted to enlist to the Iron Dome. "I have always wanted to be a combat soldier, but life in the south, especially during the last operation, have made it clear to me that I want to defend my home, Beersheba," she said.
"When we sat in the shelter and I heard the Iron Dome system at work, I said to my mom, "do you hear that noise? I will be operating that in a few months".
Even though Kabuli lives in an area in which an Iron Dome battery has been deployed, she has never seen it in action. "I only saw its excellent performance on TV, but I can relate very strongly to it. Without it, things would have turned out differently.
"During the last operation, a missile fell on the adjacent street. I promised myself that that won't happen during my shift".
Michael Visoky, 18, from Ashdod, could have opted to refrain from serving as a combat soldier, since he is an only child. On Wednesday, he will don his uniform and undergo combat basic training in order to serve in the Air Defense Command.
"I am going to try to be accepted to the Iron Dome course because I want to defend my home and my family," he said excitedly.
"When I saw missiles that hit a few homes during the last operation, I understood how important this system is. Now I am very curious how it works and it moves me to know that I am going to save people's lives".
Visoky said that some of his friends who enlisted in infantry units were unimpressed with his military ambitions.
"They said it was a pencil-pusher's job to push buttons. So I said, 'it's nice that you are entering the Gaza Strip with guns and everything, but think about what would happen without the Iron Dome. Think about how the city you come back to every weekend would have looked".
Serving in this unit is not an easy feat. Due to the complex security situation, the soldiers serving in areas where the Iron Dome batteries are deployed do not have regular weekend vacations.
Sometimes, these soldiers only get to go home once every 21 days and during heated times, once every 28 days.
The physical conditions are also far from cozy. The soldiers don't have a set base and during operations, they sleep in tents regardless of the scorching heat or freezing cold.
They use portable toilets and mainly eat canned food. On many occasions, however, the soldiers enjoy the good-heartedness of the area's residents, who shower them with homemade food, sweets, drinks and all things good.
Reuven Weiss contributed to this report
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