Tag Archive for: Zeitun Operation

People of the IDF: Behind the scenes of the Zeitun Operation

“We suffered losses, but we left with our heads held high.”


NEWSRAEL: A Second Lieutenant, company commander, is the lowest rank for officers in the IDF infantry. Even so, listen to this young man, commanding a company in his first year as an officer — AMAZING!

Upon completion of the operation in the Zeyton neighborhood, we sat down for a conversation with a company commander in one of the prominent divisions that participated in it – the Nahal. We heard about the operational achievement, the heavy losses and the reason why they are not ready to stop.

When Second Lieutenant Itai, company commander in the 931st Battalion, is asked how he is, he smiles for a moment, then answers: “It’s complex.”

Nevertheless, a few hours before our conversation last week, his battalion finished the operation in Zeitun, and in the coming days they are going to start the next mission.

“On the one hand, we recorded a very successful operational activity, but we lost a member of the department,” continues the officer in pain, “I feel a great sense of responsibility, this is the first time I’ve lost a member who is also my subordinate, and it’s not easy.”

At the beginning of the war, Second Lieutenant Itai was a cadet, and fought in the Gaza Strip together with the forces of the 1st Battalion. As soon as he finished the officers’ course, he immediately entered Gaza, this time under the new cap – Company Commander. “, he recalled, “I didn’t know the soldiers yet, and they learned to trust me during the maneuver. Now in retrospect, I think this is the best way.”

After many months of fighting shoulder to shoulder with his soldiers, last week the Nahal fighters began an operation in the Zeitun neighborhood of Gaza City. There, they eliminated more than 90 terrorists and destroyed underground infrastructure and a large military base.

“There was a large headquarters there that was used by Hamas to plan terrorist activity,” he elaborates, “It’s a very important task, but on the other hand it’s also difficult and complex. We left there with our heads held high, but we suffered losses.”

The late Sergeant Ariel Zim, the radio man of Second Lieutenant Itai and his team, fell in the complex operation,

“We were in an encounter with terrorists. While I was returning fire, Ariel went to get to me, but then he was shot at. I ran in his direction, and for a moment I thought I was going to get shot too. I was wholeheartedly ready for it. When I saw his injury I was sure he would survive, but unfortunately I was wrong.”

The death of the late Sergeant Ariel affected not only the fresh Company Commander, but all the soldiers in the platoon. “Through this difficulty, I learned how much I love them, from now on we fight for him as well,” he declares, “and I will not let his death be in vain.”

The Nahal Brigade has been jumping from one operation to another for over six months, and before the eyes of Second Lieutenant Itai, there is a clear mission: “Obviously homesickness is hard, but in the end we have hostages who have not seen their family for close to 300 days, so who am I to complain?”

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EDITORS NOTE: This Newsrael column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.