The Story of an Israeli Hero

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During the battle of Bint Jbeil, one of the main battles of the Second Lebanon War, Captain Yoni Roth (then Sergeant), a soldier in the 51st Battalion, 1st Infantry (“Golani”) Brigade, was shot three times in the back. One of the Hezbollah bullets ripped through his back, puncturing his lung and leaving a hole that could not be surgically repaired.

I remember the terrorist shooting at me with a machine gun, while throwing a few grenades, and then, at some point, I could hear him firing rounds from three hundred meters. In a split second, I understood that the terrorist is about to shoot me. Then I felt the bullet hit. I fell to the ground. My gun dropped. I understood that the initial bullet had struck my back, thinking that the next bullet will hit my head.

Capt. Roth was able to get himself out of the terrorist’s shooting range. He then laid on his stomach, waiting to be evacuated and feeling his breath shorten. Recalling his thinking at the time, Capt. Roth said,

When the enemy is firing at you and wounded soldiers are screaming for help, you are presented with a dilemma: To whom should you run first? And if you are going to save the wounded, rather than strike back at the enemy, then whom do you save first? The wounded soldier that is screaming the loudest or the quieter ones?

Capt. Roth explains his recovery from near-death:

The battle of returning to normalcy is more difficult than the battlefield—it is a long-term struggle with more weakness points.

In the aftermath of Bint Jbeil, I not only worked on repairing my body and improving my fitness level, but also filling my soul with courage, overcoming my fears and returning to the line of fire. I had flashbacks from the battle of Bint Jbeil.

I feel triumph on a personal level. The story of my life was cut off abruptly, in battle, and I came back. At first I could not move, sitting planted in a wheelchair. Then, I forced myself to take a few steps, eventually I was able to walk. Those initial steps evolved into short runs. One day I ran 50 meters and afterwards rested for a full day. Today I run half marathons.

Following his recovery, Capt. Roth returned as an officer and continued to pursue his military career, earning a citation for his bravery by the head of the Northern Command, serving as a platoon commander for the Golani Brigade, and later as a deputy company commander of the brigade’s anti-guerilla unit. Recently promoted to the rank of captain, Capt. Roth is currently studying at the IDF’s Command Academy and will graduate with an undergraduate degree from Hebrew University and a junior officer ranking. He plans to be a company commander of the anti-guerilla unit.

The full story can be found on the IDF website.

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