By Adam Shimer
Dvir Dimri, former Israel Defense Forces soldier and three-week veteran of the Gaza Strip conflict, explained on Wednesday what he considers the three pillars of Israel’s military success.
In a talk called “21 Days in Gaza—An Eyewitness Report,” Dimri shared his experiences with an audience of Northwestern students and community members, through the co-sponsorship of Wildcats for Israel and Tannenbaum Chabad House.
This past summer, Dimri began, he went to Israel with his wife and four children to celebrate his youngest brother’s bar mitzvah. But his vacation was quickly cut short when he woke one morning to a text message from his commander telling him that his reserve unit had been called up. Dimri reported to his base in the desert later that same day.
This is how Dimri began his 21 days in Gaza, an experience he said showed him a very personal account of the bravery and tragedy that captured the world’s attention this past summer.
Dimri’s presentation highlighted what he viewed to be the “three military secrets” that allow the Israeli forces to succeed. The first is the soldiers, with Dimri stressing the sense of brotherhood and duty that spurred them all to action.
“I feel proud to be a soldier in the IDF,” Dimri said, “to stand between terrorists and the Israeli people.”
Dimri described this sense of pride mirrored in his fellow soldiers, like an officer who dislocated his shoulder playing basketball before the ground operation began. He was going to have surgery, Dimri said, but put it off upon hearing about the operation so that he would be able to fight. Dimri recalled that he often appeared in pain, but also noted that he never once complained.
“No one complained about how much they had to do,” Dimri said, citing a feeling of togetherness within the unit. “The only complaint soldiers had was that they didn’t get the hardest mission.”
The second military secret that Dimri shared was the people staying behind in Israel: the mothers, wives, children and fellow citizens that support the soldiers at home. According to him, the true hero in the story was his wife, because without her support and consent he would not have been able to fight.
The final military secret that Dimri brought up was God. He described the number of rockets that are shot into Israel and yet don’t hit any people or structures as a “miracle.”
“One officer saw a rocket that was going to hit a building when at the last second a wind came and changed the path to the sea,” said Dimri. “There are thousands of stories of miracles happening on Israel’s side.”
Dimri’s firsthand account of his experience in Gaza resonated with the assembled audience, which is why Rabbi Dov Hillel Klein, the executive director of Chabad House, said he worked to bring him to campus.
“I just felt there was a lot of rhetoric going on in the media that the Israeli soldier is this cold blooded killer,” said Klein. “I wanted people to hear from somebody who was there, who saw it with his own eyes and look at him and see he is a real person. That he is a human being.”
One man in the audience ended the evening by thanking Dimri for coming and explaining how much the account meant to him.
“I only wish I were younger so that I could serve in the army as well,” he said. “It is people like you who make me proud to be a Jew.”