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Last Updated: Friday, 28 July 2006, 17:40 GMT 18:40 UK
In the Israeli army - relatives speak
Israel is calling up thousands of reserve troops in the third week of its attempt to crush Hezbollah - and retrieve two captured soldiers.

Relatives of soldiers talk of their concerns - and grief - over the conflict.


IDF Apache pilot Ran Yehoshua Kochva
Major Ran Yehoshua Kochva died in action on July 20th

My nephew Ran was killed last week when his Apache helicopter crashed in northern Israel.

He had been called up two days earlier. He was married with a five-year-old daughter and twins of 11 months.

He had served one day a week since he was 21. He was 37 when he died.

He was very passionate and loved the land of Israel. He was ready to serve his country.

The family is only learning now how dangerous his missions were. He flew the Apache helicopter and that's a warplane. His work was more dangerous than we realised.

He has three brothers who also serve in front-line positions.

High price

They grew up in a household that was very proud and dedicated to Israel. They all have a strong sense of duty.

My mother's brother was killed in Yom Kippur [the war in 1973]; I have another nephew killed in the war in Lebanon in the 1980s; and now my sister's son has died.

Ran was a very upright and talented person. An architect. Quite modest, not a show-off. He was a special child, very attractive.

He loved nature. If he flew over somewhere that looked nice he would make a note of it and take his family there.

It is a very high price to pay. And we pray that this is the end of it.


IDF soldier Hemi Leberman
Hemi Leberman is serving on the Gaza border

My son left Britain to take Israeli citizenship two-and-a-half years ago.

He's doing his regular service in a tank unit on the border with Gaza.

I hope he stays there - it's much better than in the north.

Hemi is pretty much a left-winger; he went to Israel because he's always been proud to be a Jew and feels strongly that Israel is the homeland of the Jews. He knew he'd have to serve in the army - he didn't try to avoid it.

I call him all the time

I am a mother thousands of miles away in Philadelphia. When you're in Israel virtually everyone has a very close relative who's serving. It touches every single person. Sometimes I feel very isolated here.

I have to tell you, I was in the car listening to National Public Radio and it said the tanks are rolling into Gaza. I felt physically sick.

I call him all the time. The worst thing in the world is when the phone is switched off. It can be 24 or 48 hours.

The IDF [Israel Defence Forces] is very good; my son told me he would have to be in a tank for 72 hours. He has times when they tell him: "OK, you can ring your family".

The cell phone has been a great invention.


IDF reservist Noam Wolfson
Noam Wolfson is serving in southern Israel

My son Noam was released from regular service two years ago. He's just been called to serve again, luckily on the southern border with Egypt.

Nobody's happy to go - it's a duty you do for the country.

I think people from the kibbutz are more willing to volunteer for the fighting units.

The kibbutz population is maybe 1-1.5% of the whole population, but its casualty figure in war is proportionally much higher than that.

Kibbutzniks are brought up in a community in which they are obliged to give, to serve. So it's easier for them in a way because they are used to the communal spirit required of an organisation like the army.

On the other hand, most kibbutzniks are left-wing. I'd say about 90% of us vote for the Labour Party. Their political awareness tends to be higher than that of other citizens.

Noam doesn't know how long he'll be serving. I served six months in Yom Kippur in 1973. I hope it won't be that long for him.

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