The Story of

Yarden Ashkenazi

Photographed with Esther Barak Landes

Yarden served as the operations officer of the 13th Battalion in the Golani Brigade in Operation Protective Edge (2014) and later in the Samaria Regional Brigade. She managed the battalion's operations in the armored personnel carrier on the perimeter fence with Gaza, managing the evacuation of the wounded, locating missing persons and fatalities. The 13th Battalion lost eight fighters in the fighting in Gaza and many more were injured, physically and mentally.

In 2014, the night before the New Year, I was an excited officer looking forward to finally having some kind of holiday at home, going to bed smiling and hugging my partner. A few hours later, for the first time in my life, I woke up from a dream in a puddle of cold sweat and an uncontrollable rain of tears. I quietly tried to figure out if it was possible to call what I had dreamed a nightmare; because there were no monsters, demons, or terrorists in it. Rather, it was just a festive white holiday table. People dressed in white slowly gathered and took up their places. One chair remained unoccupied, and standing in front of it was a bereaved mother. That night I realized that I would never be as happy as I used to be. Since then, I have undergone a long journey of discovering my trauma, each time another layer has been revealed. Currently, I give lectures on the role of the emergency commanding officer for future operations officers, am a mentor for discharged fighters at NATAL, and a graduate student in rehabilitative psychology in the hope of treating combat victims.

Not yet recognized by the Ministry of Defense for her injuries, Yarden is being treated in the Combat Response Unit.

Photo: Ronen Fadida

Imri Biton

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Imri Biton

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Photographed with Doron Ben David

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Nadav Greenberg

Photographed with Gilad Ardan

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