The worst-injured Israeli soldier in the 2009 Gaza war was married on Monday, more than 11 years after he nearly lost his life in the fighting.
Ben Spitzer was a fresh soldier in the IDF’s elite Golani Brigade when the war with Hamas, known in Israel as Operation Cast Lead, broke out at the end of December 2008. Several days after the fighting started, Spitzer’s unit was deployed to the northern Gaza border, where it came under accidental fire by fellow Israeli soldiers.
According to reports, when IDF tank units stationed nearby observed movement along the border in the early morning of January 5, they fired artillery shells at the group, not knowing they were Israeli troops.
The friendly fire strike killed four soldiers, and injured 24 others, including Spitzer.
Spitzer was rushed to hospital in critical condition with severe head injuries and a crushed right arm.
He underwent several life-saving procedures including multiple head surgeries and the amputation of his right hand. He spent years undergoing operations and in physical therapy.
On Monday, Spitzer married a Bat Yam native named Linoy in a large ceremony surrounded by friends and family.
“We are so excited. This wasn’t to be taken for granted,” Spitzer’s father Ofer told the Yedioth Ahronoth daily just before the ceremony. “As far as we’re concerned, this is a dream come true.”
Spitzer’s army friend, Tomer Pellman, told Yedioth that Linoy was Spitzer’s “perfect match.”
Pellman said their entire Golani Brigade unit came to celebrate Spitzer’s nuptials on Monday.
“The guys from our unit that were with us [when it happened] are already married with kids, so being here today feels like a victory in some way,” Pellman said. “Our entire Golani unit will be here tonight to be merry and dance the night away.”
“Seeing him under the chuppa is going to be so emotional, just thinking about my friend who lost everything in one second, and has fought for years to get it back… even though we’re tough Golani guys I don’t think there will be a dry eye in the house,” he said.