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Golani Brigade Captain to Receive Award for Bravery in Gaza

A Golani Brigade captain who wrestled down an armed terrorist in Gaza as he was readying a grenade will receive a citation for bravery next week.
By Hana Levi Julian
First Publish: 12/21/2007, 8:31 AM

IDF Captain Nitai Okshi will receive a citation for bravery next week; he is the first IDF soldier in years to receive such an award for operations in Gaza. He is a member of the elite Golani Brigade, one of the most highly decorated infantry units in the IDF.

Okshi is being recognized for successfully restraining and wounding an armed terrorist with his bare hands.

On July 21, 2007, Okshi and a fellow commander raced forward to battle two terrorists encountered by his soldiers during operations in Gaza, killing one. The second terrorist stood between him and his men, readying a grenade.



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{Video: Battle in Gaza, July 21 2007}

Ordering his troops to lay flat, Okshi charged the terrorist, but ran out of ammunition – so he tackled the terrorist and wrestled him to the ground with his bare hands.

The Golani captain held on to him as the grenade exploded, ensuring that the terrorist absorbed most of the blast. Despite the wounds Okshi suffered in the explosion, he continued to hold the terrorists while his soldiers raced forward and completed the kill.

Okshi will be cited for bravery, resourcefulness, leadership, determination and setting a personal example.

Golani Major Who Died in Lebanon Awarded for Similar Bravery
Major Ro'I Klein, z"l, was faced with similar circumstances during the 2006 Second Lebanon War and earned a Medal of Valor for his bravery, but traded his life for those of his men in the battle.

On July 26, 2006, Major Klein volunteered to lead his Golani Brigade Battalion 51 into battle for control of the Hizbullah terrorist stronghold of Bint Jbeil in southern Lebanon. He and his men, ambushed by the terrorists, tried to attack them from behind but were blocked by a wall.

Klein, who was treating a wounded soldier, saw a terrorist hurl a grenade and yelled to his unit to warn the other men.
Soldiers who survived the battle - eight did not - reported that Ro'i yelled out "Shma Yisrael…" and jumped upon the grenade, absorbing the brunt of the explosion and saving the men around him. 
Though mortally wounded, Klein tried to continue to communicate by radio to his superiors. One of his fellow soldiers, Elad Ozeri, later said that shortly afterwards, when it was thought that Ro’i was dead, Capt. Itamar Katz, who took over the command, approached him.  At that point, Klein - in his last act on earth - raised his arm and gave his coded radio device to Katz. 
"Maj. Klein always emphasized to us the importance of finding the coded devices of soldiers who were hurt," Ozeri said, "so that they would not fall into the hands of the enemy."