Jehan Berman, an oleh (immigrant) to Israel from Belgium, heroically saved his wife and son last Thursday by sheltering them with his body from mortar shrapnel, and in the process suffered serious wounds to his back.
Speaking to IDF Blog, Berman recounts that the incident happened during a birthday party for his three-year-old son at his kindergarten in Avshalom, a community in the Eshkol Regional Council. They didn't have time to reach the bomb shelter, at which point Berman made a selfless sacrifice for his family.
"I realized that I’d been struck and the first thing that I thought of was my son and wife," recalled Berman. "She stood up and I saw that there was no blood on her and that everything was okay. I remember my son and the look on his face the moment he heard the explosion, and I said 'okay, nothing else matters.'"
Berman noted that a new element was introduced in the terror arsenal of Gaza in Operation Protective Edge, in the discovery of over 30 terror tunnels leading into Israel. "These tunnels have created a sense of fear that the rockets never did," noted the heroic father.
The day after Berman was wounded, four-year-old Daniel Tragerman hy''d was killed by mortar shrapnel in his Kibbutz Nahal Oz home. Commenting on the tragic incident, Berman said "the same could have happened to my boy."
This is not the first time Berman survived a brush with lethal terrorism. In December of 2001, shortly after he arrived in Israel, Berman survived a Hamas suicide bombing that killed 11 Israelis and injured over a hundred others.
The reality of terror has not left him; he remarked "when my son was born, and the doctor handed him to my wife, a (rocket) siren sounded in the hospital. He was born to the sound of sirens."
However, Berman remains unshaken by the threat because of the warm outpouring of support and care by his fellow Israelis. "I have a family of millions of people here," concluded Berman. "That's Israel."