From Victim to Hero: A Rocket Attack Survivor’s Journey

July 17, 2019

by:  Matan Tzuri

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IDF rocket alerts in Sderot (illustrative)

Wednesday, 17 July 2019 | In 2002, before the Iron Dome became a part of the Israeli reality, the city of Sderot was under near constant rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip. That year, S., then a 16-month-old baby, suffered serious wounds from more than 147 shrapnel pieces. Years later, and after a long recovery, S. is on his way to joining the IDF’s [Israel Defense Forces] Naval Commando unit.

“I just decided that I can do it,” S. says. I hope to set an example for Sderot teens, so that they will know that we can grow up to make our dreams come true, no matter what we endure.”

S. is now 18 [years old] and bares some 60 scars from the day of his injury. He hardly remembers that day, in which one of two rockets launched from Beit Hanoun in the Gaza Strip hit his home’s back yard, where he was playing. However, he says that his soul remembers everything.

“Every now and again, when I’m asleep or when I close my eyes, I hear noises and ambulance sirens, sounds of things breaking. It’s like in a film, like a distant memory. That’s all I remember, the rest is from stories,” S. says.

“I heard a blast and I went outside looking for S.,” his mother recalls. “I saw him standing in the back yard covered in blood, then picked him up and ran outside, and paramedics took us to the hospital.”

Miraculously, the shrapnel pieces didn’t penetrate deep into S.’s body. Doctors treated him for hours and removed them piece by piece, some as big as five centimeters [2 inches]. After a few days at the hospital, he was released, covered in bandages.

S. went through all the difficult exams the Naval Commando requires, and was excited to hear he had gotten in. “I just decided that after all that I’ve been through, I can make it thought these exams,” he says.

“It was just a matter of decision; it took a lot of willpower. It wasn’t easy, but I withstood the challenge,” S. says. “It’s a miracle that I’m alive and that I was able to get into the elite unit I’ve always dreamed of getting into.”

The story of S. is widely known in Sderot, and he’s become a symbol in the border town. He is often invited to schools to tell his story.

Alon Davidi, Sderot’s mayor, recently met with S. to wish him good luck. “I know S. since he was a boy, I’ve been following his story from when he was an elementary school kid, through the Yeshiva [religious school] high school and now as he was able to get into the Naval Commando against all odds, in light of his injuries,” Davidi says.

“His story is an example of how one can make the best even out of the most difficult circumstances.”

Posted on July 17, 2019

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on July 16, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces@IDF/twitter.com