(photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)
From the beginning of the IDF's latest ground invasion until the very last day, Golani platoon commander Or Carandish was serving in Gaza. That is, aside from a two-day break after the 20-year-old soldier was wounded when his tank came under attack during an operation in Shejaiya. His platoon's task was to take over two houses in Shejaiya. "Our tank got stuck.. we started going back, and suddenly it stopped, and I heard very loud explosions and felt a sudden stabbing pain... I understood that they had shot at us," he tells The Jerusalem Post.
"I saw blood, I tried to speak to my friend, who was on the floor of the tank - there was blood oozing from his head," he recalls. "I put pressure on his wounds and helped him wake up - he was in shock, he didn't understand where he was. He started arguing with me and fainted again."
Carandish, who himself had suffered injuries to his head and hand, tended to his friend, and reported what had happened. He also received information that another tank that had been with theirs had also been struck and the commander and been injured. They asked for his help and he told them to follow him.
After they had reached a safe area, and the wounded had been evacuated from his tank, Carandish went into the second tank to check on the commander. "He was in critical condition, his whole arm was gone - no bone or skin- from the elbow down to his palm," he recounts. "He was lying on the floor screaming." The wounded were transferred by jeep to a helicopter that flew them to Sheba Medical Center at Tel HaShomer. He says that helicopter ride was when reality started to hit home. "What do you say to your parents, what do you say to your soldiers' parents? And the thought of my soldiers still inside... it was a difficult moment for me."
“Fortunately, the incident didn't end tragically,” he reflects.
Carandish was in hospital for just six hours, during which the doctors removed the shrapnel from his body. He then spent a mere one-and-a-half-days at home before returning to Gaza. "I was categorized as severely injured because I had a head injury but in reality I could function fine." He says that short time he spent at home drove him crazy: "The sirens and the news on television blaring 24/7." Ironically, he says that inside Gaza it was comparatively quiet and calm. Additionally, thoughts of his soldiers still in Gaza with a commander they didn't know, after they had been through the difficult incident wouldn't give him a moment's rest. "I wanted to go back and be with them, and show them that everything is OK, and everything will continue to work as it should."
Carandish says the end of Operation Protective Edge brought with it great relief for him and his family. The fact that both his sister and girlfriend live in the rocket-battered Gaza belt made his service more personal for him. "I was doing it for them," he explains. "We (his platoon) uncovered two tunnels and destroyed a lot of Hamas infrastructure. We worked well."
Carandish has seven months left in the army and says he will see “how things roll” after that. Perhaps he will continue in the IDF after his obligatory service is up.