Israel’s Heroes

September 10, 2006
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Since statehood, Israel has had to fight for her very existence in one war after another. The people have an incredible determination to survive and will fight heroically in the face of incredible odds to defend their nation and their families. Perhaps this constant state of war explains their deep desire for peace.

When a war is fought in Israel, it is never far from home. War comes into the lives of civilians in a very invasive, real way. In fact, the outcome of a single battle can devastate civilian communities. I live in Gilo, a suburb of Jerusalem, where Palestinians have often fired into our neighborhood. Apartments facing the Arab village of Beit Jala have bulletproof glass in the windows, and the people know what to do when the firing begins. Even the children know to immediately fall to the ground and look for cover. In the recent war with Hizbullah, thousands of missiles were fired on civilian Israeli targets from Lebanon. Is it any wonder that people have learned to be strong? Their very lives depend on their determination to survive, coupled with the skills of their army.

An Interview with Two Soldiers

One hundred and eighteen soldiers lost their lives in the conflict with Hizbullah. Many more were wounded, some severely. Two soldiers wounded in battle were interviewed on Israeli television. Sgt. Eran Perry lost his right leg to above the knee, and Sgt. Evyatar Cohen, whose right hand is not functioning, spoke from the hospital a few days after the fragile cease-fire went into effect.

It was an extensive interview with presenter Katy Dor, who asked them about the problems faced during the war. One of the problems was keeping the soldiers supplied with food.

Eran said, “Look, there were some problems with food, but that’s the way it is; it’s war. You take some food and supplies, and then they bring some more in a Puma [an IDF-made armored combat vehicle], and then the Puma gets hit by an anti-tank missile. So what are you going to do? You can’t complain or criticize; it’s war.”

Evyatar went on, “At that moment, what you’re thinking about is staying alive and about protecting each other. There are some who didn’t eat all day just because they didn’t feel like it, because of the fear or whatever. Food and things like that––they’re just not things that you think about.”

“What you’re thinking about is that you and your friends should come out alive,” said Eran. “I’ll tell you the truth: When I got hurt, the medics checked me, and I saw I was OK, without a leg, but OK. All I thought about was that I shouldn’t get kidnapped [by Hizbullah], and that your friends who are busy at war shouldn’t get killed.”

Eran spoke about losing his leg: “Here, look, I’m without a leg––considered a ‘moderate’ wound…If you ask me, as I hear in your tone, whether I regret having lost my leg, or if I think it was for nothing––I say no, I don’t think it was for nothing. I don’t regret it for a second. I would go out again to war with the knowledge that it could happen to me…This is what we’re in the army for…I can’t cry or complain to anyone and worry that I might get wounded when Katyushas are falling at home, and people are getting killed. I mean, I’m a soldier now, and I give my three years.”

Evyatar added, “The main thing is that we are alive, and therefore, we have a lot to be grateful for. We now go forward. It’s real nonsense––a hand, a leg. It’s really not important.” (In response to the interviewer’s raised eyebrows) “Yes, really nonsense.”

“Vanity of vanities, compared to people who lost their sons or their friends––total nonsense,” said Eran.

“I mean, the bottom line is we’re here!” exclaimed Evyatar. Chuckling, Eran said, “I’ll have a prosthesis, and he’ll learn to write with his left hand…No problem. I’ll walk regularly. They told me that they have a prosthesis that I won’t even limp at all, and I hear that the Defense Ministry takes care of its wounded. I’m alive. And he’ll learn to tie his shoes with his left hand, and it could be that his hand will even come back to normal.”

Evyatar responded as he smiled, “With God’s help!”

Eran summed up the subject by saying, “I mean, people lost their friends, and their sons, and their husbands, and their fathers, so, who are we to say anything at all?”

These are the kind of young men who serve in Israel’s army. Many stories of selfless heroism were in the press, including one about a soldier who threw himself on top of a grenade to save his friends’ lives. These are Israel’s heroes.

As you pray for Israel, remember the young men and women who put their lives on the line to protect Israel. Pray that God will provide safety, deliverance, protection, courage, and healing for the wounded. Through prayer, we can be their spiritual “supply line.”

By Rebecca J. Brimmer
International President & CEO

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