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August 27, 2014 10:34 pm

Wounded IDF Soldier: I Fought for All Jewish People, Not Just Israelis (INTERVIEW)

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IDF soldier Shachar Shalev, another soldier wounded in Gaza fighting. Photo: family.

IDF soldier Shachar Shalev, another warrior wounded in Gaza fighting. Photo: family.

An Israeli soldier, seriously wounded in Israel’s Operation Protective Edge, told The Algemeiner in a recent interview that he considers his sacrifice to have been on behalf of all Jewish people and not just Israelis.

Sergeant ‘R’, who has spent weeks so far recovering at Israel’s Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, said he fought on behalf of world Jewry “because I know Israel is for the Jewish people. That’s all the Jewish people really have.”

‘R’ served in the Aleph Arayot platoon of the 188th Armored Brigade’s 53rd Battalion as a tank scout, clearing the way and directing the IDF’s heavy battlefield armor.

He was injured by a mortar shell, which has proven to be Hamas’s most deadly weapon in this round of fighting, as he waited near an armored personnel carrier right outside of Gaza after four days inside the coastal enclave.

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Of his injury, he said, “I know I’ll walk again. If it will be exactly the same, I can’t tell. I don’t know, because it’s really a bad injury. I hope that it will be right. If not, not.”

Some Jews have shown great appreciation to ‘R’ for his service. The soldier said that his hospital room is “full of stuff, crowded” with gifts from well-wishers around the world.

“My mom, she needs a truck. She takes home every day all the stuff,” he said. Generally, well-wishers give money, clothes, candy and electronics. “I have three tablets now,” he admitted.

The majority of the many visitors are from Israel “but I’ve seen a lot of people from around the world and you see a lot of support from Americans and Brazilians,” he said. “We know the Jewish people are with us. It really strengthens us.”

‘R’ enlisted in the IDF a year and 8 months ago, and from day one was eager to fight for his country.

“I waited for it because that’s why I joined the army. I really wanted and waited for this, and I knew something is going to happen because it’s never quiet,” he said. “I knew at some point I’m going to fight and I tried to prepare the best for that. That’s what I waited for. That’s what all the soldiers are waiting for.”

But when the time came, soldiers in his platoon were disappointed that they weren’t the first soldiers to enter Gaza. ‘R’ said, “We were really upset that we were just in the back lines, because everyone wanted to be in the front.”

Of entering Gaza he said, “It’s a little scary but you are near the tanks and it makes you feel safer.”

By the time his platoon reached built-up areas, they were mostly deserted and the greatest threat they faced was booby trapped structures, which needed to be approached with extreme caution.

After seeing the IDF in action up close, ‘R’ proudly touts the army’s high moral standard. As an example, he admitted once coming across “a nice knife,” which he thought about helping himself to. “My officer said, ‘no way you touch anything.You can’t take anything from the site. It’s immoral,'” he said.

‘R’ maintains that highlighting the morality of Israel’s army is a duty of all the Jewish state’s friends around the world.

His message to American Jewry: “Say to everyone to help in the explanation and say how moral our army is and help and always support Israel, because understand that’s our country and that’s what we have and that’s our base.”

“It’s really important because that’s what gives us legitimacy,” he stressed. “That’s what helps the country; it’s really important.”

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