Eleven Air Force officers and combatants got a rare opportunity to meet Obama shortly after he landed at the Ben Gurion Airport. "He had a warm and fatherly attitude," one of the soldiers remarked. "It was very moving."
The United States provided Israel with millions of dollars to help it develop the Iron Dome system and acquire new batteries. Prior to his arrival in Israel, Obama asked his Israeli hosts to personally meet the soldiers who operate the life-saving system.
"Last week we were informed we had been chosen to meet the president and we've been preparing ever since," Sgt. Tal Farhi told Ynet.
Farhi, 20, is an operator on the first Iron Dome battery to successfully intercept 100 rockets. As part of the preparations for the president's visit, a special Iron Dome battery was placed at the Air Force base in the Ben Gurion Airport.
Obama with Iron Dome operators (Photo: Avi Ohayon, GPO)
Obama was able to closely observe the battery and was accompanied by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, Air Force Commander Amir Eshel, Air Defense Commander Shahar Shohat and Ofir Shoham, head of the Ministry of Defense Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure .
Obama was given a rocket interception simulation by soldiers who were selected based on their operational experience and command of the English language.
Touring Iron Dome (Photo: Avi Ohayon, GPO)
"We were prepped in advance for any question he may ask us," Farhi revealed. "Obama went one by one and asked us about our jobs personally. When he saw my name tag he immediately addressed me by my name," she remarked.
"I was very moved by his warm and fatherly attitude. He skipped no once, showed genuine interest, and spoke to us as equal with absolutely no mannerisms. He was just like any other person. It was fun seeing him talk to us common soldiers."
After special simulation (Photo: Dror Einav)
The US president was apparently surprised to learn that so many female combatants operate the Iron Dome, Farhi revealed.
"Obama saw that the Iron Dome was the place with the most equality between men and women and I'm glad I chose to serve in this unit," Farhi said. The president praised the soldiers, telling them they should be proud of themselves of their life saving work.
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