Ziv Shilon

It was 2am and during a routine tour of the Gaza perimeter fence, we identified a suspicious package inside the fog. As a force commander, I approached the fence to examine the suspicious package and then an explosion. I still remember the smoke and the shouts from all over. The suspicious package was found to be an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) that cut off my left hand instead of my right hand. When I recovered, I realized that I was very close to the fence, which put me in grave danger of being kidnapped in the Gaza Strip. I don’t know how I did it but managed to lift myself off the ground, bleeding, without a hand, and run towards my jeep. I shouted at the paramedic: “Put on a tourniquet and take me for treatment otherwise I will die.”

I remember being evacuated to the helicopter landing and from there to the hospital in critical condition where I underwent a long surgery, which saved my life. The doctors managed to reconnect my right hand, but when I woke up from surgery I woke up to a new and unfamiliar reality – from a combat unit commanding 135 soldiers I moved to a bed where I lay for about three and a half months needing assistance in every possible operation.

During the rehabilitation period, my mother became ill with cancer and died after a long struggle. Despite the immense feeling of emptiness, I decided to rebuild my life. It was a long period of restoration in which I re-learned how to eat, dress, shower and regain my lost independence. Later I decided that I was going to study for academic studies and enrolled in law studies at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya. It was a complex and uncertain reality but the choice was simple between falling into the abyss or starting to fly and win. Following the successful rehabilitation people who were in a similar situation to mine contacted me and told me that thanks to my rehabilitation they also managed to heal. I realized that I had the opportunity to inspire people and chose to shatter three glass ceilings I didn’t believe I could crack: to bring my body to the limit, (I participated in Iron Man), to be an entrepreneur, (to start a company that specializes in creating solutions for people with disabilities) to get married and start a family. Big people choose to deal with big things and not let small things become obstacles.

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