TRAGEDY SPURS IDF BRI­TON

One man re­veals how a fam­ily tragedy spurred him to aban­don Bri­tain, con­quer his fears and to do ‘his duty’ in Is­rael

The Jewish Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - IN­TER­VIEW BY NAOMI FIRSHT

IN THE sum­mer of 2014 the ma­jor­ity of us were glued to our TV screens watch­ing in dis­may and fear as yet an­other Gaza war un­folded. As anti-Is­rael protests be­came a com­mon sight on the streets of the UK, mem­bers of the com­mu­nity were making fre­quent and fran­tic calls to fam­ily and friends in Is­rael check­ing ev­ery­one had sur­vived the lat­est rocket at­tack.

But, for one Lon­doner, it wasn’t enough to watch from afar so, when Sa­giv Amos re­ceived a phone call from his for­mer IDF com­man­der, he dropped ev­ery­thing, left his job and booked a flight, all to fight along­side his “boys”. “My bosses said if you leave you are not com­ing back. I had a big dilemma be­cause I had bills to pay. I thought hard about it and de­cided I was go­ing to go — not know­ing when I was go­ing to come back. I had a one-way ticket,” says graphic de­signer Amos.

The Is­raeli-born 28-year-old was called up as a re­servist just be­fore Op­er­a­tion Pro­tec­tive Edge be­gan. The month-long war that started on July 8 claimed the lives of 65 IDF sol­diers and four Is­raeli cit­i­zens, as well as more than 2,000 Pales­tini­ans. Amos was there for the en­tirety of the war, spend­ing 28 days on the Gaza border.

As a first-class sergeant in the Golani Bri­gade re­servists, he pro­vided cover fire for other units, cap­tured spies to be in­ter­ro­gated by the Shin Bet unit, and han­dled dogs to check for booby traps and weapons.

“When you are in there, you don’t sleep. There’s no such thing as sleep. There were con­stant bom­bard­ments, ar­tillery, and guns. You just be­come ac­cus­tomed to it.” He says that at some points there were rock­ets fly­ing out from Gaza ev­ery few sec­onds.

His mo­tives for fight­ing were not po­lit­i­cal. “The pol­i­tics are out the win­dow for me; it’s a sep­a­rate sub­ject. I be­lieve the main thing is just to pro­tect the in­no­cent civil­ians: the chil­dren, the women. That is my main ob­jec­tive. Ev­ery­thing else is sec­ondary. So I know, when we don’t sleep, that there are fam­i­lies who can sleep, who don’t have to worry, who don’t have fear. Just to know that my friends can sleep that ex­tra one or two hours a night be­cause I’m an ex­tra sol­dier, or help­ing out with the gear, tak­ing it kilo­me­tres on end. It gives me sat­is­fac­tion to know that I can be there for them. For me, it is an hon­our; it’s a priv­i­lege to be there to fight along with them.”

Amos says his fam­ily didn’t sleep nights while he was there, and when he was able to use his phone he would re­ceive a bar­rage of con­cerned and well-wish­ing mes­sages from friends in Eng­land.

Al­though fight­ing was a bruis­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, he was touched by the sup­port he re­ceived from the Jewish com­mu­nity in Is­rael and abroad. “We were con­stantly show­ered with gifts — crates and crates of food, and other gifts. Each par­cel had a flag on it to show where it came from.” He re­calls how, while on 24-hour leave in Jerusalem, he was of­fered a free hair­cut, free drinks in a bar and had strangers

There’s no such thing as sleep when you’re there Scarred: Sa­giv Amos left to fight in Is­rael

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