Injured soldiers receive citations from Peres (JERUSALEM POST) By GREER FAY CASHMAN 07/02/12)
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Outstanding soldiers injured at Independence Day rehearsal honored at
President Shimon Peres held a special ceremony on Sunday for the two
staff sergeants who had missed an awards ceremony for 120 outstanding
soldiers representing all branches of the defense forces during
Independence Day celebrations at the Presidentís Residence because of
the injuries they sustained during a April 18 rehearsal at Mount
One of the soldiers who had been among the 120 selected to receive
citations and scholarships from President Shimon Peres and Chief of
Staff Lt.- Gen. Benny Gantz was St.-Sgt. Hagar Zohar, an aerial
defense instructor in the air force whose family lives in New York.
Instead of participating in the honor guard being inspected by Peres
and Gantz on the morning the citations were distributed, Zohar was in
Hadassah University Medical Center in Ein Kerem.
Zohar and St.-Sgt. Shay Kricheli, a soldier in the Civil
Administration of Judea and Samaria who had been chosen to represent
the COGAT (Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories)
unit at the ceremony for outstanding soldiers were both severely
injured and are still not fully recovered.
Zohar is in rehabilitation and undergoing therapy, while Kricheli is
still hospitalized at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, following
his initial treatment at the capitalís Shaare Zedek Medical Center.
Three other soldiers were lightly injured, but the worst result the
collapse of lighting rigging was the instant death of Lt. Hila
Bezaleli, a Medical Corps officer in the Jordan Valley Brigade who
had dreamed of becoming a doctor.
Zohar, who still has a bandaged arm and who walks with the aid of a
cane, told reporters that even though it was a great honor to be
selected, she was not nearly as excited as she had been at the
prospect of being at the Independence Day ceremony. The two months
that sheís been in treatment have given her a different perspective
on life, she said.
ďWhat Iíve been through in the past two months overrides anything I
experienced in the past two years,Ē she said, but declined to answer
a question as to whether she had been able to get past the trauma of
Zohar sustained neck and back injuries as well as a broken arm.
Nonetheless she was able to salute smartly when she stood in front of
Kricheli, who is on crutches, was unable to salute and was in obvious
pain as his citation was handed to him.
Peres kissed them both and told them that they were young and that
they would overcome their injuries. Zohar said she knew that she
would eventually be whole and healthy again, but that she would not
be able to do all the things that she had done before.
While in hospital she had been visited by the then-outgoing IAF
commander Maj.- Gen. Ido Nechushtan as well as Peres and Gantz, while
Kricheliís visitors had included two Palestinian Authority liaison
representatives, Yusuf Lafi and his deputy Nasim Algog, who had
worked with him.
Gantz said the two soldiers had proved themselves to be outstanding
both before and after their injuries.
A ceremony of this kind was not something to be taken for granted, he
said, but he had never entertained a doubt that Peres would hold such
a ceremony to try in some small measure to compensate the two
soldiers. Zohar was accompanied by her mother and Kricheli by his
parents and his two grandmothers. A large delegation of soldiers was
When Peres was in New York last month, he met Zoharís family.
Zohar has no intention of returning to New York to live. She intends
to make Israel her permanent home.
After the ceremony, Peres spoke to reporters about Israelís seventh
prime minister, Yitzhak Shamir, who died on Saturday. He had never
met anyone who clung so tenaciously to his beliefs, said Peres, who
said that Shamirís ideology had been rooted in his personal history.
Whether one agreed with him or disagreed with him, said Peres, one
had to acknowledge his courage, his patriotism and his loyalty.
Peres credited Shamir with being responsible for facilitating large-
scale Russian and Ethiopian immigration to Israel. (© 1995-2011, The
Jerusalem Post 07/02/12)
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