Two soldiers of the Nahal Brigade's Battalion 932 are set to be stationed on the Gaza border, guarding their grandparents who helped establish and are still living in the Gaza-adjacent communal town of Nahal Oz—the first settlement established by the Nahal.
"It's quite emotional for us, it's all coming full circle," said 82-year-old Yankale Cohen. "Sara and I served in the Nahal, and now our grandchildren are following in our footsteps and guarding the border just like we used to back in our day."
Since establishing the town, Yankale and Sara experienced nearly every security threat from the Gaza border, yet stayed in spite of the dangers.
First there were the attacks by the Palestinian fedayeen, than the infiltrations by Palestinians from Gaza, and in the last few years they dealt with the threat of missiles and the tunnels. Even so, the couple refused to leave.
Now, the burden of defending their home will be shared by the couple's grandsons, Ido and Mor, when the two will be stationed on Passover to guard the Gaza border as part of their military duty in the Nahal.
Staff Sergeant Mor Schlesinger, 21, moved to Israel just to serve in the army. "My parents immigrated to the United States, but it was always clear to me that I'll return here to serve in the IDF," he said.
Schlesinger then added that "the fact that my grandparents live in the sector that I'm set to protect strengthens my sense of defending my home and the citizens of the Gaza border towns.
"It's also very convenient—when I studied Hebrew, here in the south, I would spend the night at their home."
Staff Sergeant Ido Cohen, 20, was also excited about his new station. "I started my military service in a non-combat role, in the Teleprocessing Corps, but I always wanted to serve in the field," he said.
"After a year of service I requested to transfer to the Nahal Brigade," Cohen added, explaining that "I heard a lot of good things about it from Mor, and I feel that my service here is very significant.
"It's good to know that we are about a kilometer from one another, and another kilometer from grandma and grandpa—it feels like the whole family returned to live next to each other."
(Translated & edited by Lior Mor)