Standing on the Gaza border in his khaki uniform, Morris Wald had finally fulfilled his dream of joining the Israel Defence Forces.
But it was not a rifle the 19-year-old north-west Londoner was holding as he gazed out over the troops and tanks crossing the landscape, but a camera.
The former JFS student had signed up to the Dover Tzahal, or IDF Spokespersons Unit, as a media photographer to achieve his ambition of becoming a soldier.
And in that role, he took a series of photographs that gave a fresh insight into the men and women who make up Israel’s fighting force.
Now 21 and back in Britain, Mr Wald this week recalled how his exam choice at JFS got him assigned to the Dover Tzahal.
“When I got to the army base, they asked me what I had studied. I showed my commander copies of my A Level photography work and was put in the media department.”
Armed with his photographic equipment, Mr Wald travelled across Israel from the Golan Heights to the Negev, taking pictures of military exercises and officers’ passing-out parades.
He was there on the Gaza border when Israel launched its Operation Pillar of Defence in response to Palestinian rocket attacks.
“It was pretty intense. I came over from my quiet surroundings in north west London where you just watch the news. It was quite a change. When I got to the situation, I was like: ‘Oh my God — this is real’.”
During the eight-day operation, Israel mobilised a huge social media campaign, providing news outlets with live updates via social media resources from Facebook to Twitter. Mr Wald’s photographs were part of this campaign.
He said: “We used technology to reach out to people who wanted to know what was really going on. It was for people who didn’t want to read the news a day after it happened, but who wanted to know as soon as it happened.”
Mr Wald spent 14 months in the army and reached the rank of corporal. But after his tour of duty ended, he decided to return home.
“Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be a soldier. My mum is Israeli so when I got there, I got Israeli citizenship because I was born in the UK. I met the most amazing people out there.
“I was away from the people I loved and not ready to make aliyah. It’s such a big step.”
He does not intend to waste his IDF experience, however. “I’m now hoping to get a job in professional photography,” he said.