The IDF chief of staff doesn’t talk much about the serious security incident that nearly cost him his life when he was 20 years old during his compulsory service. However, in a conversation with Rami Bracha, who was injured in operational activity in Lebanon in 1983, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot recounted his own injury, which took place about two years after he enlisted in the Golani Brigade’s 51st Battalion.
“It happened in 1980. … I was injured in an exercise in the squad commanders’ course,” Eisenkot recalled. “I was driving an armored personnel carrier, and while driving the armored personnel carrier, a MAG fired into the cab. A bullet entered me here.
“I was in a very difficult situation, but since then I have had an open mind. It’s a benefit in life. As somebody who took a bullet to the head in Golani, it’s a benefit. Ever since, I’ve had an open mind.”
Eisenkot recovered from that injury, went on to officers’ training and from there to an impressive military career as Golani Brigade commander, Judea and Samaria Division commander, GOC Northern Command, deputy chief of staff and chief of staff.
Eisenkot, who took part in the outstanding soldiers ceremony at the President’s Residence on Tuesday morning, was interested in the conversation held over the past few weeks over Bracha’s story. Told in the framework of an initiative of the Zahal Disabled Veterans Organization, Bracha and others are attempting to raise awareness of disabled veterans, their rehabilitation processes their stories.
Among the participants in the series of interviews with such veterans are President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Judoka and Olympic medalist Uri Sasson, stand-up comics Adi Ashkenazi and Adir Miller, and singers Rita and Shlomo Artzi.
Bracha is currently preparing for a post-discharge trip to India for 20 wounded soldiers this summer. A similar trip took place a year ago to Nepal.
Bracha, a member of the Friends of the IDF Disabled Veterans Association, lost a leg and a hand while he set off a landmine in southern Lebanon an hour after he had arrived to rescue peers as a young officer in the Paratroopers’ Brigade.
(Translated and edited by J. Herzog)