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
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