IDF's lone soldiers make the ultimate sacrifice
Kfir, who came to Israel from France and was wounded in Gaza, tells i24news: 'I don’t regret my choice'
Like the hundreds of young people from abroad that come to Israel to fight in the Israeli Defense Forces, Jordan Bensemhoun was committed to Israel's security, his sister said the day after learning of his death in Gaza while fighting with the IDF.
Bensemhoun was a 22-year-old "lone soldier" who came to Israel to serve from France without his family.
On the 16th day of Israel's Operation Protective Edge against Hamas in Gaza, Bensemhoun, who served in the Egoz special forces, was killed,
Thus far into the operation, 29 Israeli soldiers have been killed and over 150 wounded. In addition to Bensemhoun, two other soldiers killed in the battles in Gaza were from America, having moved to Israel to serve in the IDF.
“Your son is also our son, your brother is also our brother” Jewish Agency President Natan Charanski told Bensemhoun's family during his funeral at Ashkelon’s military cemetery on Tuesday.
Bensemhoun's family from France were accompanied at the cemetery by thousands of Israelis who did not know him, but wanted to honor his memory and sacrifice for the State of Israel regardless.
"A few days ago, you called me to tell me that you were angry because you were doing nothing” said Jordan’s fiancée at his burial. She underlined that Jordan wanted to act to stop the rocket fire.
“The only thing we can tell you, is thank you” said one of his fellow soldiers. “Thanks for your love for Israel. Our victory will be also yours, you can be sure that you played a main role in Israel’s security.”
Operation Protective Edge has brought special attention to the lone soldiers serving in Israel, with two American IDF soldiers sacrificing their life in battle in Gaza.
On Tuesday, around 20 000 attended the Haifa funeral of Sergeant Sean Carmeli, a 19-year-old from Texas. The young man's coffin was accompanied by Maccabi Haifa fans – which was Sean's favorite team.
More than 30,000 people attended the funeral Wednesday for 24-year-old Californian native lone soldier Max Steinberg, who was laid to rest on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem following an online campaign urging Israelis to attend his funeral.
“I don’t regret my choice”
Several lone soldiers from France have been wounded in the war in Gaza and now residing in the country's hospitals. Kfir, a Golani Brigade soldier from France was lightly wounded in battle in Gaza.
“I don’t regret my choice to have committed myself to the IDF, even after being wounded” he told i24news. “I was in Israel during the Lebanon War, when there were sirens. I knew that one day, it would be my turn to defend the country.”
Another French soldier, Gabriel Bennhaim, age 22, was seriously wounded while in Gaza as part of the Golani Brigade. He moved to Israel just last year.
His mother, Nelly Benhaim, said while sitting next to him at the hospital, "It’s going to be alright, I’m happy to be next to him.
“When I heard on TV that something happened to my son’s squad, I immediately felt that something happened to my son," she told i24news.
In a hospital in Beesheba where many wounded soldiers are undergoing treatment, volunteers have come to show support and help the families of the soldiers cope. A buffet was set up in the lobby and its being replenished regularly by a stream of volunteers.
Earlier this week, a Facebook page was created to allow people to send messages to the French soldiers serving in the IDF. Someone shared Bennhaim's story on the page and the following response was quickly written:
“Thanks a lot Gabriel. We think about you and are proud of your courage because thanks to you, we can live in Israel in security and without fear,” a French-speaking resident of the south of Israel wrote.