September 13, 2010

The Flotilla - an untold story

We’d all seen the captioned videos and listened to the conflicting reports on TV and in the press. Some of the Israeli papers carried firsthand accounts by Israel’s Navy SEALs of ‘Shayetet 13’ their faces pixillated by the military censors. But, for me, no story of the Gaza Flotilla operation was more touching than the one told at one of the events we promoted recently in London.

It was told at a fundraiser for the Keshet Yehuda pre-military academy of the Golan in the presence of Israel’s Ambassador Ron Prosor and special guest speaker Brigadier General (Res.) Efraim “Effi” Eitam.

General Eitam is one of the most decorated soldiers in the IDF and holder of the Medal of Distinguished Service for his heroism in the opening hours of the Yom Kippur War against the advancing columns of Syrian tanks. He went on to command the elite Golani unit which rescued the Israeli hostages at Entebbe.

Eitam had taken part in debriefing of the SEALs and told of his conversation with the third officer to rappel down the rope. He asked him what was going through his mind at this time. The officer said he watched his first comrade land on the deck and immediately disappear under a violent scrum, which then moved him to the side of the deck. The same thing happened to the next man: "as soon as he hit the deck they were all over him".

Eitam then asked the question which most of us seeing that newsfeed would have wanted to ask: “Watching this sight below ... you were only half way down the rope … what were your thoughts at that very moment?” The Navy officer responded: “I said Shema Yisrael and dropped the rest of the way down … I then drew my pistol and shot at the armed men who were trying to kill us.”

So long as our commandos know how to say Shema Yisrael, they will remember what they are fighting for ... and why losing is simply not an option for our people.

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