A soldier fighting for the Israeli Defense Forces is in Boston this week, dropping off family members who were able to escape the violence overseas before returning to the fight himself.
Major Omri, who requested his last name be omitted to protect his family, sat down with 7NEWS while he was in the area.
“[My family] saw me go upstairs and organize my uniform and my gear and they ask if I’m going ‘to play in the army’ – exact words,” he said. “I told them ‘No – I’m going to fight for our freedom.'”
Speaking with the news station, he discussed what he had seen in southern Israel after a series of surprise attacks by Hamas fighters on Oct. 7 left hundreds of civilians and soldiers dead and led to all-out war.
The IDF soldier described how Hamas fighters video-recorded the violence and used social media to taunt Israelis.
“Sometimes, they even took the phones of the deceased and killed soldiers, and posted on their behalf, their dead body pictures,” Omri said. “I think of those parents and those families – that their loved one wrote to them ‘They are here, I love you, this is a goodbye’ – the last time I saw these kinds of messages was on the planes of 9/11.”
The 37-year-old said he was called up to serve the weekend Hamas attacked. He took photos driving from his home in central Israel to his military base in the south, showing car after car riddled with Hamas bullets and open doors where people ran for their lives from the terrorists.
He said he didn’t take pictures of the more brutal scenes Israelis have endured, but that the images are seared into his mind.
“To see it with my own eyes, to see people – not only they are dead – the terrorists made sure they are dead with 20 bullets to their faces – who does these kinds of things?” Omri said.
The IDF major said he is sharing his first-hand account so Americans hear about the atrocities straight from a witness and know the current conflict is not one that will last for a few days.
“It is a long-lasting campaign,” he told 7NEWS. “I’m not asking right now people for assistance – I’m asking for the next week, next month, maybe even next year.”
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