Israel’s Rocket-Hunting Ace Got His Start Playing ‘Warcraft’
KFAR GVIROL, Israel — While many of the boys in Idan Yahya’s high school class were buffing up and preparing themselves for selection into elite combat units, this gawky teenager was spending “a lot of time” playing Warcraft - the real-time strategy computer game where opposing players command virtual armies in a battle to dominate the fictional world of Azeroth.
Four years later, the high school jocks who sweated it out in pre-military academies so they could make the cut into the Israel Defense Force’s Special Operations units are now crawling through the sand dunes on the outskirts of the Gaza Strip and watching while Idan knocks rockets out of the sky hundreds of meters above their heads. Idan Yahya, 22, an Iron Dome ‘gunner’ in the Active Air Defense Wing 167, currently holds the record for the number of rockets intercepted: eight.
People in the army describe him variously as a geek and an ace. But the geek who grew up playing Warcraft is now a highly prized soldier on the cutting edge of real war craft. He’s the Israeli army’s top rocket interceptor.