Recounting difficult moments: Eleven wounded IDF soldiers who suffered injuries in fierce firefights at the southern Lebanon village of Aita al-Shaab Tuesday arrived at a Nahariya hospital on Wednesday morning. The troops, who lost three of their comrades in battle, shared their difficult experiences with Ynet while still hospitalized.
Company commander Guy Ankor, who was the first hit by Hizbullah anti-tank and rocket fire, praised his troops for their exemplary conduct.
"They fought the terrorists under heavy fire from several directions," he said. "Some of them are lying here beside me and others are continuing to fight in Lebanon. Everyone here wants to recover already and return to the unit as quickly a possible. "
Meanwhile, Shanir Turjeman told Ynet about his good friend, Michael Levin, who died in the battle.
"He was one of my best friends, a charming person who treated everyone well," Turjeman said. "Michael emigrated from the United States three years ago and distinguished himself with his understanding, caring attitude to Palestinian civilians as well, while we served at roadblocks near the Gaza Strip."
"During yesterday's battle I heard on the two-way radio that he was wounded. I recalled the conversation we had the evening before…we spoke about the girlfriends, family, and life." Turjeman recounted. "During the heavy sniper fire and constant antitank fire I lost eye contact with him. Only during the evacuation I spotted him lying there, badly injured…in fact, it took a whole day for us to reach the hospital in Nahariya – a whole day where we were under fire and hoping the Air Force arrives to shoot at them (Hizbullah) and blow them up."
Soldiers en route to Aita al-Shaab (Photo: AP)
Turjeman said troops made their way back to Israel on foot initially while carrying the wounded and dead, before being picked up by military vehicles. A few minutes after reaching the hospital's underground emergency room in Nahariya, he got a chance to speak with his father for the first time.
"Dad, I'm fine. I was wounded in Lebanon but those are only light wounds, just shrapnel in the forehead and damage to the leg, I'm fine. By the time you arrive from the South to visit me I'll surely be released. I Love you," Turjeman told his concerned father.
'Willing to sustain injuries just to beat Hizbullah'
Shlomi Singer, who moved to Israel from the US with his family in 1991, said he always dreamt of joining the IDF. Singer was the one who carried Michael Levine before he succumbed to his wounds during the evacuation operation.
"It's a difficult sight, but you see around you friends and commanders being wounded," he said. "We were under heavy fire in one of the houses in the village. You have to be focused and are trying at all times to protect yourself and the friends lying next to you."
"Despite the criticism leveled at the operation, I must say everyone's motivation is high and many are willing to fight and even sustain injuries just so we beat Hizbullah and bring back the peace to communities in the North," Singer said. "I emigrated from the US and I view my service in the Israel Defense Force as a mission."
Meanwhile, all soldiers at the hospital are said to be suffering from light wounds. They are undergoing a series of tests and are expected to remain hospitalized for several days while their wounds are treated.