16 May Yom Hazikaron with Beit Halochem
Beit Halochem UK hosted 27-year-old former officer of the IDF’s engineering corps Yakir Amiri, over Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut where he addressed Jewish primary schools, synagogues and youth groups. He was also the guest of honour at the Beit Halochem annual golf day. Yakir spoke about his life-threatening injuries and the death of his friend Moshiko whilst locating tunnels during Operation Protective Edge. He discussed the years of rehabilitation that he had to endure, his thoughts about the IDF and his life today.
On Yom Hazikaron, Yakir attended the Tekes at North West London Jewish Day School and spoke to years 5 and 6 where the pupils asked questions about his injuries and time in the IDF. Yakir explained to them about the significance of Yom Hazikaron for people outside of Israel and told them: “After I lost my dear friend Moshiko, and the grave situation I was in, I could have chosen to take a very different path. But I chose life.”
Yakir also spoke to pupils at the Independent Jewish Day School. He was guest of honour at the Mill Hill United Synagogue Yom Hazikaron Tekes where he spoke movingly about his experiences and his friend Moshiko “who will always be 21.”
On Yom Ha’atzmaut, Yakir attended our annual golf day and during the evening he celebrated with the youth at Hampstead Garden Suburb Synagogue. The young members of the synagogue heard his story and asked poignant questions. He told them, “I didn’t choose the engineering corps. It chose me. And if I was asked to do it all over again, I would do it again for Israel.”
Yakir was drafted in to the IDF during the winter of 2011 and served as an operational officer at the combat engineering corps. In 2014, during Operation Protective Edge, he was sent into Gaza to locate and destroy Hamas tunnels. One week in, they were informed about a suspicious location and Yakir led his team in to the vicinity to search for the tunnel. They were hit by a missile and Yakir suffered extensive injuries to his stomach and leg. He immediately tried to resuscitate his friend Moshiko who had lost consciousness. Yakir was evacuated to the border and from there taken by helicopter to Tel Hashomer hospital. Following his surgery 24 hours later, he was told that his friend Moshiko was killed immediately.
Yakir was close to death on several occasions and underwent three life-saving surgical procedures whilst in intensive care. He later learnt that the missile penetrated his right leg, destroying his colon and bladder. He underwent intensive rehabilitation, learnt how to walk again and slowly built his strength. In December 2014, he left hospital and returned home. After ten surgical procedures, Yakir has succeeded in making the transition to ‘normal’ daily life. He was promoted and is now a captain. Due to his condition, he can no longer return to serve in the army.
During his time in hospital, representatives from Beit Halochem came to support his family. In 2016, he started to study economics and property. He is a recipient of several scholarships from Beit Halochem and spent many long days at Beit Halochem when he was just out of hospital, getting stronger and bonding with many of the other young wounded veterans who were just taking their first steps at getting better and trying to find solace, comfort and strength with each other’s support. Today he lives in Jerusalem with his partner Sophie.