The Main Stream

Nov 21, 2012 8:50 AM by Ryan Haarer

A Tucson teen joins the Israeli Army during tumultuous times

TUCSON- Having lived in Israel themselves, Tidi and Nancy Ozeri know all too well what it is like amidst the violence. Now that they are parents, they have a new perspective.

Their 18-year-old daughter, Shoham Ozeri, recently graduated from Tucson High School. She moved to Tucson from Israel with her parent Tidi and Nancy at the age of 8. Her strong identity as an Israeli brought her back to the country about a month ago.

"She figured if she was moving back to Israel she would serve in the army with her peers, because it is mandatory in Israel to do army service at the age of 18," said her mom Nancy.

One month into her stay and not even officially enlisted, the missile battle between Hamas-controlled Gaza and Israel began.

"We talked to her on the phone asking if she's okay. I could hear in her voice that something is wrong," said her father, Tidi.

Shoham feared her father would ask her to leave her friends in a kibbutz in the southern part of the country. She denied a bomb had been dropped on her community but her picture turned up in a report about the strike. Even though nobody was killed she now knows the bigger picture. Now in a safer place, Shoham and her parents are in constant communication.

"That reassurance is something that calms us down and keeps us from getting too tense," said Tidi.

Now just about a week away from basic training as a search and rescue soldier, Shoham must learn to be a fighter, not just physically, but mentally.

"I'm concerned as strong as the personality is that she has, the effect if she has to pick up body parts or a dying person. That's an impact that stays with you for the rest of your life," said Tidi.

With tension between the Hamas-controlled Gaza City and Israel as strong as ever, she'll have to make decisions most 18 year olds never will.

"If that is where she wants to make her home, then she will learn to live with that reality, that tension," said Nancy.

Israel's sophisticated defense system has by and large protected the country. There have been a few reported deaths there, but that doesn't make it any easier for Tidi who says he also fears for the rest of his family in Israel. His disabled mother has spent quite a bit of time in her bomb shelter which is a building standard in that country.

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