People of Israel Demonstrate 'No Man Left Behind' Motto

Sgt. Yehuda Hayisraeli
Sgt. Yehuda Hayisraeli (Facebook )
When Sgt. Yehuda Hayisraeli was critically wounded during Operation Protective Edge, and then managed to win the fight for his life, his family never imagined they would soon be entering another battleground in the path to rehabilitation.

Hayisraeli, who suffered extensive head injuries, had been set to return to his parents' home upon being released from hospital. Given his cognitive injuries, the familiar memories of his home are considered critical for his rehabilitation. But as the family lives in Samaria, the Defense Ministry was not authorized to build a housing unit for him that would be customized to his special rehabilitation needs.

Hayisraeli was unable to go home during the 10 months his family received the bureaucratic runaround from the authorities. But over the weekend, the Israeli public decided to act on the problem rather than waiting for the government to resolve it, and raised the necessary funds to customize the family home.

A group of Facebook opinion leaders, including Avihai Shorshan, Meir Layosh and Sara Haetzni-Cohen, decided to launch a crowdfunding campaign asking Israelis to donate to the family. In just 16 hours, they managed to meet the 600,000 shekel ($160,000) goal—the amount necessary to customize the house. Within 24 hours, they reached over 1.4 million shekels (about $370,000).

Among the donors were a 15-year-old boy who gave all his allowance money, a woman who, when the website crashed due to overload of donors, remained in her car until she was able to make her donation, and an Ashkelon woman suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder due to Hamas rocket attacks from Gaza.

More than 8,000 people opened their hearts and their wallets in a demonstration of solidarity and brotherhood, while dozens more donated gifts and services to be given out as incentives for donors of cash. The CEO of Headstart, the crowdfunding site used to raise the money, noted that this was the biggest Israeli campaign the site had ever seen and was quick to assign a special team to handle the project.

This mass outpouring was not only a display of Israeli unity from both Left and Right, but also a protest against the Defense Ministry's conduct and the bureaucratic red tape Hayisraeli had to endure.

One of the organizers of the crowdfunding campaign said: "The government of Israel can release 1,000 Palestinian prisoners to bring an Israeli captive home, but it can't build a concrete ramp so a soldier will be able to come home?"

Meanwhile, the Defense Ministry has rejected the family's request once again, as settlements in Judea and Samaria are precluded from receiving building permits, and suggested that the Hayisraeli family relocate.

This terrible injustice suffered by a soldier who was sent to battle to defend his people has managed to prompt the people of Israel into action. It even has the power to send a wake-up call to the Defense Ministry.

Yehuda Yitzhak Hayisraeli was injured while courageously trying to rescue abducted Lt. Hadar Goldin from a Rafah tunnel. This week, the people of Israel demonstrated that they too live by the motto: Leave no man behind.

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