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Teenager who was seriously injured by Gaza rocket as a baby joins elite IDF unit

A teenager who as a baby was seriously wounded in a rocket strike from Gaza is accepted to the Israeli army’s elite naval commando unit, the IDF’s counterpart to the US Navy’s SEALs.

The recruit to Shayetet 13 overcame a crippling disability as a result of sustaining 147 shrapnel injuries to his body at the age of 16 months in 2002, when a Qassam rocket from Gaza exploded in his backyard in Sderot. News reports from that incident identify him as Shilo Naamat.

One of the oldest and most prestigious units in the Israel Defense Forces, Shayetet 13 is considered among the best special forces outfits in the world. In 2017, it held a joint training with the Navy SEALs.

Shayetet 13 has participated in some of the Israeli army’s most daring operations, including the transport of Ethiopian Jews from Sudan in the 1980s. It is often employed against Hamas in Gaza.

Troops from the IDF’s Shayetet 13 naval commando force training in 2017. (Israel Defense Forces/via JTA)

The handful of recruits accepted each year to Shayetet 13 are subjected to a series of grueling selection camps that most applicants do not pass.

“I simply decided I can do it,” Naamat says of his road to recovery and the decision to enlist in Shayetet 13. “I hope to inspire youth from Sderot, to show that despite what we’ve experienced, we can grow and make dreams come true,” the Ynet website quotes him as saying. He often has indistinct nightmares about sirens, but remembers nothing from the injury, he says.

— JTA

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