When soldiers operate in enemy territory, they must have access to the most essential need: water. But how does the IDF (Zahal) deliver that water to forces located in a dangerous battle zone? In cases like these, the IDF (Zahal) Water Unit is called to duty.
Without water, the human body cannot function. During operational activity, it is critical that soldiers have a reliable supply of water. That is the job of the IDF (Zahal) Water Unit.
The unit was established after the First Lebanon War in 1982. The IDF (Zahal)’s senior leadership realized that a soldier in the field cannot carry a large enough amount of water to last for an entire operation, especially when the length of that operation is unknown.
The IDF (Zahal) Water Unit operates special and advanced equipment which provides solutions for water desalination from different water sources.
The unit locates water sources, makes the water drinkable and delivers the water to soldiers in the field. In a case where the water is toxic, the unit uses special techniques and advanced technology in order to desalinate the water and convert it into drinking water.
The most common technique the unit performs is reverse osmosis, a relatively low-energy form of desalination. At the end of the process, the water is pure and all salt and toxic material has been removed.
The Water Unit also provides water to soldiers in cases of routine emergency. For instance, when there is a snow storm and a base’s water pipes have frozen, the IDF (Zahal) Water Unit comes to the rescue.
The IDF (Zahal) Water Unit is a reserve unit, which means that its soldiers are only called to duty in times of need. The reservists in the unit are chosen individually based on their qualifications. Each of them specializes in a subject that is related to water technology, including water engineering, chemistry and machinery.
“Every single person in the unit is a person who passed the age of mandatory service,” says Lieutenant Colonel Avi Zalman, the unit’s commander. “They volunteered to serve in the unit in order to promote the area of water technology, and because they want to contribute to the IDF (Zahal) and Israel.”