Izzy Ezagui, an American born soldier, developed a passion for Israel after celebrating his Bar Mitzvah at age 13. He became inspired to join the IDF and prevent terrorism against innocent Israelis after he and his family visited Jerusalem and nearly fell victim to a suicide bombing in the process. A Birthright Israel trip in 2006 cemented his desire to make the move to Israel, and one year later, he joined the IDF.
After just nine months of training, Ezagui and his brigade were tasked to guard the Gazan border as part of “Operation Cast Lead”; tragically, while inside his tent, Izzy was directly struck by a mortar, shattering his elbow and tearing off his left, and dominant arm.
Though the pain and trauma would normally deter a young man from pursuing his military service, Ezagui was inspired to go back to the front line and combat his attackers. Insisting that he go on, even with the resistance of his doctors, Israeli officials, and Prime Minister Netanyahu, Ezagui became the first amputee soldier to ace a commander training test five months later.
Ezagui’s story focuses on the pride of being an Israeli soldier, and the ability to persist against all odds and incredible pain. By bringing to campus a young man that could connect to an intimate audience of specifically ROTC members, Israel U was able to connect unaffiliated students to the pro-Israel dialogue. Through a mutual sense of pride and intrigue in each other’s stories as opposed to the conflict, Izzy and the ROTC members were able to develop a connection and discuss with one another.
The ROTC-Izzy personal connection was so incredible that they look forward to co-sponsoring the story of another IDF soldier in the coming year. The University of Delaware is now looking forward to how they can develop their personal connection to Israel.
Contributed by Camera Intern Seth Greenwald, Sophomore at Clark University