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Thread: My Battle With Hezbollah by an Israeli New Yorker

  1. #1
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    Nov 2005

    My Battle With Hezbollah by an Israeli New Yorker

    My battle with Hezbollah

    Israeli paratrooper Ilan Grapel turned 23 on Thursday.

    Ilan Grapel, a kid from Queens who graduated from Bronx Science and became an Israeli paratrooper, was caught in a fierce firefight with Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon last week.
    Grapel, who turns 23 today, is recovering from a shoulder wound.

    In his dramatic account told to the Daily News' Jonathan Lemire, Grapel describes his brush with death in a battle that claimed the lives of three of his fellow soldiers and wounded 20 others.

    Grapel's Paratroopers 101 unit - the same division that Ariel Sharon once commanded - moved into the town of Ayta A-Shab on Aug. 1 and bunked down in a series of small buildings in the heart of the Arab village. They woke up, surrounded by the enemy.

    Here is his story:

    "We had been told we'd have a leave, but it was canceled when the fighting intensified and we moved back [into Lebanon]. We arrived late in the day, without air cover. There had been a ceasefire by the air force called a few days before, and we were worried about approaching without air cover, but we didn't have a choice."

    "We woke up in the afternoon to an explosion. The siege had begun. It started with an RPG [rocket-propelled grenade] to the roof of my building. I looked up and saw a hole in the ceiling. I saw daylight ... The guerrillas had a lot of firepower. They were lobbing missiles and grenades. They'd set off flash grenades, and we couldn't see anything.

    "They shot at us from the street, from the bushes, from the other buildings ... A sniper's bullet killed one of our officers. I didn't see him die.

    "I crouched behind one of the windows and started firing back. We tried to stay covered and unload as much as we could out the window. We couldn't see much ... There'd be darkness and then the flash of the gun. You wouldn't see the guy. Just his weapon ... They were well-hidden.

    "It was nearly an hour - I was exhausted, hot and scared - when I took a bullet to my left shoulder.

    "I was trained in boxing, and this felt like a punch to the shoulder from a fist without a glove. I saw a hole in my shoulder. It hurt, but what made me sick was looking at my arm and seeing the blood and flesh. I fell away from the window; blood was flowing from my shoulder. I was lying down, but there was not much I could do - I was still in the fire.

    "We had been warned the day before that Hezbollah was trying to kidnap another Israeli soldier to send a political message. The thought ran through my head: I didn't have a working arm. I didn't have a weapon. If anyone is going to be kidnapped, it was going to be me.

    "Thankfully, the person next to me responded with fire and kept them away. A medic crawled over, but there was not much he could do except apply pressure to my wound. I could do nothing but keep down and look around ... I saw the bullet holes in the walls ... I thought it was just a matter of time.

    "After a few hours, the fire died down. There was a doctor on the other side of the house, and my [group] opened fire to get me across to him. He used a tourniquet and morphine on me and we waited. And waited. It was 10 hours. I started losing feeling in my hand and that terrified me. I didn't want to be an amputee ... I tried to massage feeling into my arm and I prayed to every God I could think of to let me keep my arm.

    "Finally, some air cover came back and they made the decision to move me. The helicopter was 5 kilometers away, so it was too far to take me in a stretcher. I had to walk, and it was a hard walk. But I made it.

    "I was in the hospital for about a week, and the doctors say I'm making a full recovery. I'm not going to lose my arm ... They told me later that bullets were missing my neck by a few inches. I could've died in that room.

    "In a few months, I'll be able to rejoin my unit. I'm not going back to New York until my friends are out of danger."

    Yesterday, five more Israeli soldiers were killed and 10 others were wounded during another battle in Ayta A-Shab. Grapel, an Oakland Gardens resident who attended Johns Hopkins University, expects to remain in the Israeli Army until the end of next year.

  2. #2
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    Feb 2005
    Bless you and keep you safe!


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