Israel’s bloodiest battle was the battle of Bint Jbeil conducted in the third week of the Second Lebanon War, at the end of July in 2006. The battle was fought by the Golani forces and the Paratroopers Brigade, against Hezbollah terrorists in a town with thousands of buildings. Battalion 51 along with seventeen other troopers participated in this battle, and were decorated as war heroes.
Among some of the most decorated survivors of this battle is Sgt. Avichai Yaakov, an entrepreneur who has joined The Jewish Agency and the World Zionist Organization in visiting the wounded and granting gifts on behalf of employees to the soldiers. He visited the wounded in southern hospitals on Monday. The visit was accompanied by Hanan Mor and other representatives of The Jewish Agency and the World Zionist Organization, as well as survivors of the 13th Battalion who had survived the battle in Lebanon.
They came to cheer up the wounded, hug them, listen to them, and to tell them, “We are with you.”
The visit to the wounded was held on a heavy day of fighting in the South. The fire came in the morning from the Gaza Strip, targeting southern cities. The afternoon led to the deaths of four civilians and the injuries of dozens more. Additionally, a terrorist infiltration into an Israeli neighborhood was foiled… all the while fighting continued in the Gaza Strip.
This group of Golani troops, called themselves “faithful to the Golani”, in honor of their dedication towards other Golani members. Thus, they came to visit their wounded comrades, on the same day as the memorial for their friends who were killed in Bint Jbeil. The list of those remembered include the deputy battalion commander Major Roi Klein, who threw himself on a grenade to save the lives of the other soldiers, platoon commander Lt. Amichai Merchavya, and others. In the morning they visited wounded comrades, in the afternoon they attended a memorial service at Mount Herzl.
When they arrived in the Barzilai Hospital, they met wounded soldiers from the Golani Brigade and from other units. One of the hospitalized wounded soldiers was a lone soldier, Zacharia Garber, from Texas, USA, who has been there alone, ever since. His family members couldn’t come to take care of him, and he watched as other injured soldiers received care from their families at this time. Some of the visiting soldiers, commanders, and families came to comfort Zacharia.
He seemed very cheerful. “My childhood years I spent in Canada, but the majority of my life I lived in Texas,” he said, adding: “I was taken to the hospital completely dried out, drained, but I am undergoing treatment and I hope to return to the brigade soon. I don’t plan to stay here, I plan to return to my friends in battle.”
When we told him that these gifts were brought by the workers of The Jewish Agency and the Golani heroes who battled in Bint Jbeil, Zecharia was very excited and said, “I am truly awed by the 13th Battalion…we always speak of the courage in Bint Jbeil… and I think that what you all went through there was much more difficult then what we are experiencing now, it is beyond anything I have ever seen.” With great humility the visitors watched him, hugged him, and took pictures with him and the other injured soldiers.
The Chairman of the Worker’s Committee, Hanan Mor, said that this meeting was the message of this war: that no individual soldier should ever feel alone, and that all soldiers are part of our family, the family of Israel.