A Captain Speaks: Entering Gaza to Care for Civilians

A Civil Operations Officer in Gaza: I was there to care for a population caught in a war zone.

When the IDF (Zahal) targets terrorists that hide among the civilian population, there are soldiers tasked with ensuring that civilians are minimally affected by the fighting. During Operation Brother’s Keeper and Operation Protective Edge, Maayan Orevi was called upon by the IDF (Zahal) as a reserve officer of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT).

Captain Orevi, 35 from Jerusalem, is a Civil Operations Officer assigned to the Hebron region. His job is to assist the IDF (Zahal) in its relations with the Palestinian population and coordinate all activities between the two communities.

Following the abduction of the three Israeli teenagers, he was called to the scene. “I accompanied a reservist battalion, and my main goal was to ensure a relative calm in the area by preventing riots and reducing the use of firearms,” explained Cpt. Orevi. Shortly after, he was asked to go to the Gaza border and reinforce the COGAT officers there.

“I was amazed by how the officers understood the importance of not involving civilians in the military operation. At one point, I was supposed to transfer to a different force, but the battalion commander came to me and said ‘you can only go if you find me a replacement. I’m not going anywhere without a Civil Operations Officer.’ That sums it all up.”

“After two weeks in Gaza, I was about to start a new mission with the Nahal Brigade. Just before we left, it was canceled. At 4AM we started walking towards Israeli territory. When we saw the bus we understood that it was over, that we were going home.”

A Captain Speaks: Entering Gaza to Care for Civilians

“As a reservist, you have a different perspective of the situation. Sometimes you have to act as a sort of big brother to the younger soldiers. We give them some peace of mind and they know that they can count on us. I felt very secure in the midst of these soldiers, especially seeing how they do their job.”