Three weeks after they gave him mere hours to live, the paratrooper officer critically wounded in Operation Cast Lead saluted his doctors farewell – and left the hospital.
Platoon commander 2nd Lt. Aharon Karov, 22, was ordered to cut his leave short and report for duty in Gaza the morning after his wedding to Tzvia, 19. She was by his side on Tuesday as he said goodbye to the doctors who saved his life at Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva. The young officer will continue his rehabilitation at the Shiba Medical Center in Tel HaShomer.
Aharon Karov joined by his wife, Tzvia (Photo: Yariv Katz)
"Physically he can do just about everything, but he is still very weak and hasn't regained his strength yet," his father, Rabbi Ze'ev Karov said. "He can walk and move all his limbs, although movement is limited in his left arm, which has 300 pieces of shrapnel imbedded in it."
"This morning he put on his tefillin (phylacteries) by himself, I wanted to let him but he wouldn't let me. He has to communicate for now with his hands and his eyes, because his oral cavity was injured.
"He has amazing, tremendous will power," Rabbi Karov added. "Several times he asked me, through sign language, if his legs were okay. He tried to get up but couldn't, and I explained to him that his muscles were lax. But he is so motivated, and he's aware of his condition.
Aharon's doctors also agree his rapid recovery is nothing short of miraculous. Trauma Unit chief at Beilinson, Professor Pierre Zinger: "When he was brought in everyone was pessimistic and thought his hours were numbered. The injuries were very bad, but in the end there was no injury to the brain."
Another doctor who came to say goodbye was Dr. Steve Jackson, the neurosurgeon who operated on Karov immediately after his injury. "Things were extremely bad, I told the family he serious head trauma. They all cried, his wife too, and I told her: 'God willing, I'll yet circumcise your son,' and then she smiled."
Jackson, a major in the Golani Brigade, saluted Karov as they said goodbye.
Karov's family agreed to allow cameras to capture his emotional departure from the hospital "to strengthen the Israeli people," his father said. "We want to show them that there is no despairing. That everything can happen, on the personal level and the national one."
Another soldier who was seriously wounded in the operation, Golani infantry soldier Cpl. Ben Shpitzer, was also transferred to the rehabilitation institute on Tuesday. He and Karov were ward neighbors while at Beilinson, and plan to share a room during their recovery process.