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Itai and the Rescue Operation

22-year-old Itai from Kibbutz Yavne was almost at the end of his active army service in the IDF. After years of being a combat soldier in the Duvdevan unit, he looked forward to returning to civilian life and made plans for the future. He went to the party in Kibbutz Re’im on Friday night with his close friend Ben. On their backs they carried a bag full of apples and delicious sandwiches. The guard at the gate of the kibbutz couldn’t understand why they were leaving home so late at night. Itai promised to bring him something sweet when they returned.

The party was exactly what they had hoped it would be - they danced, hung out with friends, and had a great time.

When the sun rose over Re’im, the sirens also started wailing. Shachar, Itai's father, tried to reach him by phone because he knew his son’s unit would soon be looking for him to join the other forces in battle. But Itai didn't answer. In fact, Itai was already in the middle of a battlefield. Without weapons and without a uniform, Itai was busy commanding an indescribable rescue operation for the dozens of wounded people crying out for help all around him. Itai the soldier knew what to do. Despite the many terrorists swarming the area, he showed the nearby policemen how to rescue the wounded under fire, directed the ambulances and other vehicles to safe evacuation points, and provided help to the victims, until he took his last breath.

During the shiva (the seven-day mourning period), survivors who owed their lives to Itai came to his kibbutz. Itai’s parents heard from the people who managed to escape how he and his friend Ben returned again and again, even after they managed to get out of the danger zone, to help the injured and put them in ambulances.

"So many people told us that they saw him in videos running around, evacuating the wounded, offering help to everyone," said Itai's mother. About two hours after the fighting started, Itai left a message for his girlfriend Carmel. He wrote that he loves her and misses her and that his back and leg were injured. From that moment on, there was no sign of life from Itai. Eventually, his family was notified of his death.

Ben and Itai didn’t return from the party they were so eager to attend, but many people’s lives were saved on account of their resourcefulness and courage. They will never be forgotten.


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