President Shimon Peres and Chief of Staff Benny Gantz handed out on Sunday certificates of excellence to two outstanding soldiers who were injured in the collapse of the lighting bridge on Mount Herzl, which killed Lieutenant Hila Bezaleli. The accident occurred during rehearsals for the opening ceremony of Independence Day celebrations.
Both soldiers, Hagar Zohar and Shai Krichli, were on the list of the IDF’s 120 best and brightest soldiers, who received certificates in a special Independence Day ceremony in the President’s House. They could not attend the ceremony because of their injuries, so they were awarded the certificates in a separate ceremony on Sunday.
At the start of the ceremony, Peres asked the soldiers about their medical condition and rehabilitation process. Hagar told the president, “I’m getting better. I'm still in pain and my vision is not yet one hundred percent, but I am getting better slowly. I will not be able to go back to the way I was before, but I’ll try to get as close to it as possible.”
Shai told the president, “Thank G-d I am getting better, there is improvement every day.” The excited soldiers told the President about the devoted care they have received at the Tel Hashomer Hospital.
Peres told the soldiers and their families, “We are proud of the parents who raised children like this. Your children faced three wars. One, during your military service when you were rewarded for your excellence. Two, in your behavior after the injury. And now you are facing the third war, the rehabilitation. I'm sure that with your personality you can beat the injury. It’s rare to meet two young people of your age who have already fought three times and won. I want to tell both of you, as well as your parents, how much we love and appreciate you.”
Gantz told the two soldiers, “You were outstanding prior to being physically injured, and I am sorry that these are the circumstances, but certainly in terms of your personality and your ability you will be able to overcome and fight this injury. I think the way you are coping with this largely reflects the reason why you were chosen for excellence in the first place. On behalf of the IDF and myself, I wish you much health, luck and patience.”