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July 30, 2014 1:19 pm
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Wounded Soldier Becomes Iconic Symbol of Israel’s War With Gaza

avatar by Deborah Danan

Reporter shows wounded soldier the front page photo of him wrapping Israeli flag around his face. Photo: Channel 2 Screenshot

A candid image of a wounded soldier covering his face with the Israeli flag has quickly turned into a symbol for the current conflict between Israel and Gaza based terror group Hamas, Israel’s Channel 2 reported.

On Monday evening, Omri Michaeli, a reserve soldier in an elite unit, was evacuated to hospital by helicopter after being shot in the leg. Monday evening was among the deadliest so far for Israel, with ten soldiers killed, 9 of whom lost their lives either in a mortar attack that day in Eshkol or in a Hamas infiltration into Nachal Oz.

A little after 6pm, Omri was caught on news cameras as he was being carried into the hospital on a stretcher. In what appeared to be an instinctive gesture, Omri covered his face with an Israeli flag.

On Wednesday, Omri was well enough to talk to reporters but could not explain why he did what he did. He was, however, insistent that a big deal should not be made out of it. It seems though, that Omri’s request came too late since the image made front page news in Wednesday’s edition of major Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot.

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“I don’t really know why I did it,” said Michaeli from his bed in Beer Sheva’s Soroka hospital. “I wasn’t really conscious, I had lost a lot of blood.”

His family, however, were not surprised. “I think it was something intuitive, he probably didn’t really think about it,” said his father, Miki. “And he certainly didn’t think that someone would be filming it, he’s really not that type. But this is what’s important to him, this country, this flag is so important to him so it just came out like that.”

Omri’s brother, Tamir, joined his father’s accolade of the solder: “This is how Omri is, he’s a huge Zionist and he loves what he does. He was actually overseas when he got called up [to join reserves], and he left everything and came back straightaway. He was back in Israel less than 12 hours later and he immediately went into the army.”

In the current conflict, Channel 2 reports that almost all of the wounded soldiers emphasize that they would like to return to service the moment that they are physically able to. Omri Michaeli is no different, and told Channel 2, “I want to get back out there as soon as possible.”

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