From Peru to “Iron Dome” Battery

From Peru to “Iron Dome” Battery

Eight years ago, SSgt Kfir Aviel Levi immigrated to Israel with his parents from Peru. Despite being exempted from army service, he insisted on becoming an “Iron Dome” operator – and he made it

Vered Talala

When was the last time you witnessed an missile interception? Staff Sergeant Kfir Aviel Levi remembers that moment vividly. “It happened a year ago, during Operation ‘Protective Edge’. I walked around my grandmother’s house in Southern Israel and suddenly heard the siren. As I ran to find shelter, I saw the rocket being shot down above the house”, he recalls. “I remember imagining what would happen if the rocket wasn’t intercepted”.

Today, SSgt is a combat soldier in the “Iron Dome” brigade. He came to Israel with his parents from Peru eight years ago, and underwent quite a rocky road before joining the unit. Despite being exempted from service in the IDF, he chose to volunteer and become a combat soldier. “My low medical profile, a result of a surgery in my past, made it difficult for me to integrate into the unit”, he explains. “However, I did not give up. I applied to draft as a volunteer and my request was accepted”.

Overcoming Difficulties
“Ever since I came to Israel, I got connected with the legacy of the place, so the path to service was very natural for me”, says SSgt Kfir with a smile. “I had a neighbor who served as a combat soldier in the 1967 “Six-Day War” and told me about the historic moment when the soldiers finally reached the Western Wall. I got even more excited and motivated to draft”.

He spent his first days in the IDF in “Michve Alon”, an IDF base specializing in educational programs. “I was taught history and Judaism, and afterwards began basic training in IAF’s Air Defense Division. From there I got to ‘Ido’ battery, the first ‘Iron Dome’ battery established”, recalls SSgt Kfir. “Studying the system was hard for me at first, due to language difficulties. My commander set with me until very late at night and patiently taught me all I needed to know”. Kfir’s commander, Lieutenant Dvir Saudian, the battery’s operations officer, adds: “He struggled in the beginning, but today he is one of our top interceptors”.

“Proud to be a part of the IAF family”
SSgt decided to join “Nativ” course (Hebrew for path), and convert to Judaism. “The course was highly significant for me”, he remarks. A moment before taking off his uniform, he summarizes his unusual service in the battery. “I am proud to be a part of the huge family which is the IAF, and especially the ‘Iron Dome’ family”.