The Story of
Amit Shabtai Shaked
Photographed with Nataly Dadon
“Two nights before the ceasefire in 2006, after more than three consecutive weeks inside Lebanon, we entered a village full of armed terrorists about 20 kilometers from the border. That night, at 12:30 A.M., 36 hours before the ceasefire, a squad of Hezbollah terrorists with anti-tank missiles began to fire at the house we were in, and so over two and a half hours eleven missiles were fired at the house.
Today I know that's when I began to break. In the morning, a tank battalion tried to reach us with food and water as we hadn't eaten in five days at the time. They tried to evacuate the wounded. The squad that fired at us directed the fire at the tanks and killed all four of the soldiers trying to help us. To this day, I get up at night and hear the soldiers in the tank shouting for help. The morning arrived and at the same time, a few kilometers away from us, the Nahal 931st Battalion was hit in severe clashes in the Wadi Saluki in southern Lebanon. There were dozens of dead and wounded. We were without cover or back up - and the helicopters couldn't land to evacuate us. I still can not get over the sense of frustration and failure that we could have saved some of our fellow soldiers, and we did not. My commander wouldn't let me go out and fight.
I didn't know any of them personally, neither the wounded nor the fallen. This was one of the blackest days of the war for Israel. We lost over 30 soldiers that day, most of them in the same battle.
I didn't know them personally, but I remember every fighter's last words in my ear while he was on my shoulder or being carried on a stretcher. We waited for helicopter after helicopter to land and take away the wounded. However, sometimes by the time the helicopters arrived, they were not longer wounded, but gone forever. Sometimes I hear them at night, or on the train, or just when I look out to sea when I'm with my daughters on a night out. I hear them everywhere and they are still with me, they are the real heroes, the kind who stayed there. And me, I just wanted them not to feel alone in their last moments.”
Photo: Shai Yehezkel
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