This article was first published as “The inspirational soldier who refused to let his lost arm keep him out of combat” in The Times of Israel.
Izzy Ezagui had just finished his initial military training in the Israel Defense Forces when Operation Cast Lead broke out in December 2008. A few weeks later, while guarding the border between Israel and Gaza, Ezagui absorbed a direct mortar hit, which ripped his left — and dominant — arm from his body. He was rushed to Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba, where he underwent emergency surgery to stop the bleeding and close his gaping wound.
For most young men, that would have been the end of their combat careers, if not their military service altogether. But for Ezagui, it was just the beginning.
In fact, his life-altering injury turned him into more of a fighter than he had ever been. Defying doctors’ orders and slashing through military red tape, Ezagui has become, as far as he is aware, the only IDF soldier with this specific disability to return to full combat duty.
Speaking to the Times of Israel from his home in Jerusalem’s Rehavia neighborhood, Ezagui, now 24, insisted that he is just “an average Joe.” But once he begins to tell his story, it becomes clear that his fortitude and determination are far from ordinary.
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© 2012 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.