Captain Yisrael Ben Shetrit, spoke to Israel National News - Arutz Sheva, in an interview dedicated to the hero of the hostage rescue operation, Arnon Zamora. Yisrael himself was injured in March 2024, in an incident he describes as “a miracle that I survived.”

Yisrael, a hero in his own right, 39 years old, an IDF major, father to five children, who is still fighting for this land, feels that “it is an honor to be a soldier. It is an honor to be a soldier in this timeline. I believe that we are in the Independence War No. 2, and I think that what is happening here in Israel, what is happening in the world, I have the honor to be a soldier, a commander, in this army, and in Am Yisrael. I work in hi-tech, in a place called Desert Tech, and we do fundraising for startups, helping to adapt desert technology to Israel and to the world. But now I left everything. I left my family. I left my business. I’m not the only one, many left their wives and family because we all know that this is a historic time.”

Yisrael continued, “So, on October 7, I served in the North, but in February we had another mission, and we went to Gaza and were combined with the special forces, with Brigade 98. Then we had another mission in the refugee camp in Khan Yunis, and there I got injured. Two days earlier the Hamas shot two RPGs to the house we were in. The RPG went through the house, killed two soldiers, and wounded sixteen. We had a mission to go to the place where the missile was shot from and fight them. I briefed the soldiers and then I went out of the house and there were two armored personnel carriers [achzarit]. I saw the RPG, the head of the rocket in front of me, and the flames of the fire. I immediately said, ‘Oh my God, this is the end.’ At first, I thought this might be a mistake, maybe a tank shot over there and something happened, but then I saw and I heard the AK bullets that they had shot at me. It was all over my head and my legs and I understood that I was in a big, big battle.”

Yisrael continues to describe how “I don't know how I got out alive, but I felt that I got injured on my right side. I was really afraid that the terrorist would shoot another missile, so I immediately started crawling between the two vehicles to take cover. At this stage, I was hurting, but I was still standing. Then I started crawling and they shot at me. I lost consciousness between the two vehicles. After a few seconds I felt someone touching my shoulder and saying, ‘Wake up, it's not your time to sleep.’ I looked around and I don't know if it was God or an angel, but there was nobody around. I heard the wounded screaming for help. I saw that I was between the two vehicles and realized that if they shot, there would be a big blast and I would be injured to the extent that no one would recognize me. I started crawling to the house that was nearby and there were IDF soldiers there. They were about to shoot at me because they thought I was a terrorist, so I shouted out the name of my unit, and they understood that I was an IDF soldier. I did a self-check and saw that I could feel my hands and legs. My right side was really hurting.”

Yisrael continues, “One of the soldiers came over and told me that I had to get to a doctor. I said, ‘Mikey, it's not the time now’ and he said, ‘No, you're in a really bad situation.’ Again I said, ‘Mikey, this is not the time, we need to rescue the soldiers', and I decided to go out. It was chaos and there was shooting all over. I saw Nadav Cohen, who was a soldier from the tanks’ corps, and he was in a bad condition. I asked why no one had rescued him and they said that if you go out like this, you can get shot again. I said to myself, ‘Listen, you're in a bad situation. Let's do another mission, let's do another mitzvah, my last mitzvah, so I decided to run out to Nadav. I didn't remember this, but Mikey said that when I went out, Hamas started shooting again. I pulled Nadav by his leg. It was very difficult, but someone helped me, and we got him into the house. When we got him into the house, we understood that he was in a very difficult condition, and he passed away. I went out to rescue other soldiers who were on the top of the vehicles. We called the doctors and the helicopter and that's it. I'm here. A big, big miracle, but I'm alive.”

Yisrael explains the will of soldiers to go out fighting, saying, “My soldiers are my children. So, all the time I worry about my soldiers. All the time I am thinking about them. Even now that I'm wounded and injured and they are back in Gaza, my heart is with them, all the time. It's very difficult to know that you're staying in a hospital and your soldiers are now in Gaza. The second thing is we have a mission, and the mission is to protect Israel. This is our mission. This is what has been on our minds all the seven and eight months. This is what we are thinking all the time. If we are there, what happened on 7 October could not happen again. So, this is what we need to do, even if we need to sacrifice our lives, even if we need to sacrifice our bodies, and even if we need to sacrifice our souls. This is what we need to do, and we believe that this is what we need to do.”

Yisrael explains that Gaza is a different world. Looking at a picture of Gaza, he says, “No one can understand, but it is amazing to be in Gaza because when you're there, there's no left and no right. There is none of the fighting that we have in Israel. We are all united. It's amazing to be there because you know that we are doing our mission. Social media shows you how soldiers and Israelis are so weak, but when you are in Gaza, you feel the special force of Israel. You feel that you are with heroes. You are all the time with children between 19 to 25 who are serving in the military reserves and sacrificing everything for people they don't know, people they have never met. So, this feeling being in Gaza, it's an amazing feeling that no one can explain.”

Yisrael is still in hospital, but hoping to recover and complete his rehab, and then he will be going back to Gaza, back to his soldiers. He explains, “We're still in a war. The war has not ended. But I’m looking at the optimistic side of this because I had a big miracle. I am not supposed to be here at all. You know there was shooting, they shot RPGs and Aks at me. I'm great, a little bit injured, but my spirit is great. I'm feeling great.”

In regard to the tap he got on his shoulder, Yisrael discloses his belief that “you can see the miracle every day because the houses in Gaza are full of bombs. They are all Hamas. The hostages who were rescued yesterday were in the houses of families, and civilians. Everyone is involved in Hamas. When we were in the Qatar neighborhood, every house had weapons and grenades all over, but what really surprised me, was when I opened a notebook and there was a quiz in math, asking ‘If you killed two Jewish people in the afternoon and later you killed two Jewish girls, how many Jews did you kill today.’ This was the quiz for kids. You know, it's simple grade A and B. This is the ideology of evil and this is not Hamas children, this is the population all over there. So, God is all over. You feel that.”

Yisrael believes that “we are close to Shavuot, and it’s said that at Mount Sinai we all had one heart; we were together. This is what we’re feeling in Gaza, everyone is together. Everyone in the military brings what they can; one is a driver, one is a doctor, there is a soldier in the 18 to 25 age group, and there are military service reservists, who left everything. They don't know you and but immediately when you came to Gaza, you became a big family.”

Yisrael has been in army service and the hospital for eight months, so for his children this is routine. He says that he misses them and they miss him a lot, “They have also sacrificed a lot. They are also part of this war. I talk with schoolchildren of all ages and I tell him that they also have a mission. My mission is to be in the army, but they also have a mission. I remember in the Second Lebanon War, I wasn't a soldier, but I had a mission to volunteer, I helped the families. Every person has a mission in this world. Even the oldest guy has a mission. Also, the Rabbis, the haredim, have a mission in this world. Maybe I can’t go out and fight right now, but my mission is to bring this spirit of unity to all. Social media shows how this unity is very complicated, how we are separated and my mission, as I see it, is to bring this spirit that Am Yisrael Chai. Am Yisrael Chai in Israel. Am Yisrael Chai in Melbourne. Am Yisrael Chai in Florida.”

Yisrael talks about, “Groups in the hospital that came from Florida, Miami, New York. Everyone wants to take part because they feel that they belong. We need to continue this spirit all the time. Our enemy wants us to be separated and when we are united, this is the best weapon against our enemy.”

Yisrael attended the bar mitzvah of a young boy, and blessed him. I told him, “You know when you were little, you read comics about heroes. There was Superman and a green giant, and others. But you must know that you belong to a nation of heroes. I was in Khan Yunis and there were many wounded soldiers. One night I spoke to the other soldiers, they were sad and I asked them what they were going to do tomorrow. They all said that we need to go back to the neighborhood and back to the battle because we need to continue fighting. Even if they're scared, even their friends get wounded or killed. I said, ‘They are the real heroes.’ This is what everyone needs to know. We are heroes.”