In Hebrew Voices, Remembering Our Soldiers, Nehemia Gordon shares the testimony of a young Israeli soldier willing to sacrifice his life to defend the Promised Land against the onslaught of international Jihad. Please take a few minutes and remember our soldiers with us, in honor of Yom HaZikaron (Israeli "Memorial Day"), which begins this Sunday evening (April 30, 2017).
...for six months a storm of emotions has raged inside me following the incident with the combat-soldier Elor Azaryah. ...I don't intend to dissect the incident from a professional-military standpoint, but I will go over it in general for those who are not familiar. Elor was stationed with the Tel Rumeidah Company as part of the Hebron Battalion, [when] a terrorist... carried out an ...attack [against them]. Our forces suffered light casualties and the terrorist was neutralized. Elor was called in from headquarters to the scene of the incident. He identified a terrorist moving and shot him in the head. ...This may not have been the most professional-military decision, but I can't know because I wasn't in his shoes and it doesn't really matter.
...I volunteered for the Golani Brigade... ...I know exactly what I am willing to sacrifice and understand why I want to do this. This is the upbringing I received at home. From a young age, it was clear to me that I would be a combat-soldier. And yeah, this is no small sacrifice. Wow, when you are stuck serving and your friends get to go home, sleeping for days straight wearing your boots, trekking dozens of kilometers carrying heavy equipment, and having a relationship with your girlfriend over the cellphone. These are all difficult things that anyone who has served in combat can identify with. And every combat-soldier knows these things are trivial compared to the true sacrifice which you are prepared to give as a gift, so that we can have a country of our own.
...It helps that the people you love are proud of you and it's always fun to hear on the way home, "Golanchik, come and help yourself to a free falafel ball!" But you don't do it for that. In order to survive for three year as a combat-soldier, you need a much deeper and well-thought-out reason that you can draw on, no matter what amount of crap you eat, something that allows to finally fall asleep with mud-filled boots and tell yourself it's worth it.
Even though I have seen difficult moments, I have never had doubts, until [now].
[You see,]...we don't need appreciation... but what is critical is those who serve with you: your brothers-in-arms, your team, your platoon, your squad, your company. You need them. They are the ones who replace you at 3 am for guard duty. They are the ones who save you the biggest shnitzel [in the mess hall] when you are out on patrol. They are the ones you see when you go to sleep, and again when you wake up. They are the ones you spend 72 hours with, lying in the dirt, waiting for terrorists. They are the ones you are willing to do anything for and they will do anything for you? And why? Because, who else can you rely on, if not them?
Oh, I almost forgot. Of course, we also need the officers. [explain: after me!] The officers are responsible for us. They serve as our mother, our father, and our brother. ...Every problem you have, you know you can trust your officer and rely on him to help. The officers are responsible for teaching us military-professionalism and discipline. And if we mess up, to also punish us. Or if we do well, to reward us. We have to rely on our officers during battle, to give orders that could save lives. We also have to trust them to have our backs when we make mistakes. We are human before we are combat-soldiers and there is no one who has never made a mistake.
The day Elor's commanders did not have his back, was the first day during my service that I seriously considered going into the commander's office, handing him my weapon, and telling him that this was not for me. ...I am willing to give everything and this is how they might abandon me? ...Am I really going to charge at the enemy in the footsteps of someone who won't have my back if something goes wrong?
...For six months I have been carrying around these thought and every time I hear something new about the [Elor Azaryah] trial they return to me. But despite this, I will remain a combat-solder. ...I will finish my service soon with the bitter knowledge that this could have happened to me, or to someone from my team, or my company. What can I do about it? Not much... What I can do is be proud of those men who hold our country together and protect us. I can acknowledge that they are truly giving everything in the fullest sense of the word. Thank you, Elor Azaryah, for protecting us!
Nitai, Golani Combat Brigade