"Eliraz was just a meter away from me. I shouted that I was wounded, I ran to the right, and saw Eliraz on the ground, dead." GOC Southern Command Yoav Galant visited Guy Elmakayes, who was wounded in a deadly exchange of fire in Gaza on Friday and underwent surgery in Soroka Hospital in Beersheba.
Elmakayes, who suffered a shrapnel wound to his chest, has improved and his condition is no longer critical. He told Galant on Sunday about what had happened during the exchange of fire in which Major Eliraz Peretz and Staff Sergeant Ilan Sviatkovsky were killed.
Major-General Galant heard about Elmakayes' medical condition, and wished him a speedy recovery. He also shook hands with the wounded soldier's parents, Itzik and Helen, who showed him a sign prepared by his uncle who serves in the Golani brigade: "When the going gets tough, the tough get going."
"As soon as I get out of here, I'm going back," said Elmakayes to Galant, and expressed his hope that he'll be back in action within three weeks. He also said he hoped to start training as an officer.
'I'll never forget that birthday.' Elmakayes and Galant. (Photo: Herzl Yosef)
"First of all get well," the major-general said, and proposed that he wait a little. He also said the soldier would have the Passover Seder with his comrades from the 12th battalion in the Golani brigade.
Elmakayes described the events that led to the death of Peretz and Sviatkovsky, noting that he remembered every detail.
'Then the shooting began'
"We were called and went in – me, Eliraz and some others," Elmakayes said. "We got to the place where there had been tank shots earlier. Then we went inside. Eliraz saw an explosive device and sent a tracker who was wounded. He found the wire, we went on a few meters and then the shooting began. We couldn't see where it was coming from, and we hit the ground, and then came the shot that got me."
"Eliraz was just a meter away from me. I shouted that I was wounded, I ran to the right, and saw Eliraz on the ground, dead," Elmakayes said, adding that he would never forget the look in his eyes.
"A medic came and began taking care of him. Then a helicopter evacuated me and brought me here where they saved my life. I'll never forget that birthday," said Elmakayes, who celebrated his 20th birthday on Friday, the day of the incident.
His father said that Elmakayes had been deeply affected by the death of battalion's second in command, and had requested to meet his family.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the Peretz family to share their sorrow following the death of their son. "I was shocked by this tragic event," the prime minister said to the family. "I will pray that you will know no more sorrow."