Brave IDF Soldier Asks Not to Be Decorated for Heroism
Lt. Eitan has modestly asked not to be decorated for his heroic attempts to save Lt. Hadar Goldin (hy"d) last week, saying that the act of bravery was merely the right thing to do.
"I don't want a medal; I'm no hero," Lt. Eitan stated in a Yediot Aharonot interview late Wednesday night. "If not me, someone else would have done it."
"This is not some kind of heroic feat," he continued. "This is the essence of being a combat soldier, of being a commander."
Lt. Eitan ran after Goldin - who was presumed abducted - in a Hamas terror tunnel on Friday, endangering his life in the process. The move, while technically against IDF protocol, allowed the IDF to determine Goldin's death - and prevent another batch of terrorist releases under the assumption that Goldin is still alive, a la the 2011 Gilad Shalit deal.
The 24-year-old told the Israeli daily that he ran into the tunnel in total darkness - without a vest, helmet, or rifle.
The commander of the company joining the force, as well as commander of the battalion, initially prevented him from descending into the shaft - but he did not give up.
"The company commander did not want to [let me], the battalion commander did not want to [let me], so I went up higher to get a green light," Lt. Eitan says.
In the end, the deputy commander only went ahead with the approval of the Givati Brigade commander, Col. Ofer Winter. "He said, 'Throw a grenade [in] before you go," Lt. Eitan recalled.
"It was not reckless," he stated. "I made an informed decision. I knew this tunnel was something you don't go into, I knew what the risk would be and understood it - but I decided to act."
Lt. Eitan is likely to be decorated for his act of heroism, IDF officers stated Wednesday, who praised his work as a "historic action."
"It seems that the incident involving Lt. Eitan, the deputy commander of Givati, is a historic action which prevented Hamas from changing the face of the operation and implementing a strategic weapons [against us],' the officer, a member of the Gaza Division, told Walla! News Wednesday.
According to the officer, Lt. Eitan is likely to be rewarded for "his life-risking determination to prevent [damage to] the State of Israel and a chain of complex events in the future, as in the case of [the 2011] Gilad Shalit [abduction]."
"This is an extraordinary event, like nothing we've seen in the operation and like nothing we've seen in the past several years," he added.