Jerusalem is one of the oldest cities in the world and a holy city for the three major monotheistic religions. Because of its history, the IDF (Zahal) has the right and obligation to protect every single part of it and all the civilians therein. For Lieutenant Colonel Michael Gilinsky, this means more than just protecting the home of his ancestors: it means protecting his home.
Lt. Col. Michael Gilinsky was born and raised in Jerusalem. When the moment came at the age of 18 to draft into the Israel Defense Forces, he joined the Nahal Infantry Brigade and eventually became an officer. After earning a bachelor’s degree in Human Rights Law and spending years out of the army, Lt. Col. Gilinsky has finally returned to the IDF (Zahal) after successfully completing the Home Front Command’s commander course. Today, he serves as commander of the Jerusalem division.
Lt. Col. Michael Gilinsky
Lt. Col. Gilinsky wants nothing more than to protect the city of his birth and improve its level of readiness. “My goal in this new post is to get to know the civilian population well in order to offer them the best service, and if needed, to be able to act quickly and in the best way possible in order to protect and save lives,” he says.
Protecting Jerusalemites from terrorist rockets
Even though Jerusalem is one of the most important holy cities in the world, that is no deterrent for terrorists who don’t mind destroying their own religious sites or hurting their own brethren. This was seen during Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012, when Hamas terrorists fired missiles at the city, which eventually landed in Arab villages in Judea and Samaria.
Paradoxically, even though our enemies’ weapons are becoming more technologically advanced, they are still willing to fire them indiscriminately. But the Home Front Command has the advanced technology and training to respond to these attacks if necessary. Between exercises and courses, our soldiers train on a daily basis.
Responding to natural disasters
The soldiers of the Home Front Command are prepared to deal with more than terror. When natural disasters strike, they are one the front lines and are prepared for every type of rescue. Because Jerusalem is situated in the mountains and on a fault line, it is under threat from earthquakes and heavy storms. Although earthquakes in Israel in recent years haven’t been powerful enough to cause much damage, Home Front Command soldiers know exactly what to do and how to perform rescues in such a situation.
The most recent natural disaster was the major snowstorm this past December that hit not only Jerusalem but the entire Middle East. About 400 soldiers and tank drivers from the Home Front Command were called in to collaborate with civil forces. Together they were involved in clearing roads, assisting civilians who were trapped on the roads and highways because of the sudden snowfall, distributing supplies and working with the electricity company.
“In both emergency and day-to-day routine situations, the whole civilian population is protected equally, without distinction,” Lt. Col. Gilinsky says. “During the recent snowstorm, for example, we collaborated with Palestinian ambulances that were stuck in the snow and distributed generators to areas that had power outages,”he says.
“It gives me a great sense of personal satisfaction to be in charge of protecting the city of Jerusalem and its citizens,” Lt. COl. Gilinsky says. “It is also a tremendous responsibility.”