Chief of staff approves 25 citations to soldiers from Gaza conflict

Stf.-Sgt.-Maj. Omri protected fellow soldier from grenade with his body, Stf.-Sgt. (res.) Yogev Ofir provided vital return fire to enable evacuation of wounded soldiers.

January 19, 2015 17:39
2 minute read.
Benny Gantz

IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz. (photo credit: REUTERS)

IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz on Monday approved citations for bravery and excellence to 25 officers, non-commissioned officers and soldiers for their actions during Operation Protective Edge last summer.

Those receiving awards include Lt. Eitan Pund, deputy commander of a reconnaissance company in the Givati Brigade who, on August 1, led four soldiers into a terrorist tunnel in Gaza, after the kidnapping of Lt. Hadar Goldin.

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Armed only with a handgun, the 24-year-old sought to rescue Goldin. Although he could not locate the missing soldier, he was able to retrieve evidence that allowed the army to declare Goldin dead.

Pund will receive the Mofet (Good Example) citation, the highest award being distributed.

Also to be commended is St.- Sgt. Maj. (res.) Omri (full name withheld for security reasons), from the Duvdevan Unit, who jumped on a fellow soldier after a grenade was thrown at the unit in Gaza on August 2, protecting him with his body.

During combat, Omri strove to engage the enemy, risking his life repeatedly while helping to evacuate injured soldiers.

He will be awarded the Chief of Staff Decoration for his actions.

Another citation will go to St.- Sgt. (res.) Yogev Ofir, 22, of the Nahal infantry brigade, who was in a unit targeted by a terror cell with an anti-tank missile July 25. A soldier was killed and two others injured in the attack.

Ofir, responding to the sounds of blasts, rushed to the site and returned fire, using ammunition from other soldiers when his own ran out. He provided cover so the wounded could be evacuated and helped treat them while returning fire despite sustaining an injury himself during the battle. He will receive the Chief of Staff Decoration for his actions.

US-born Sgt. Sahar Elbaz, from the Rimon Unit in the Givati Brigade also will receive the Chief of Staff Decoration.

While lying in ambush for a terror cell in a mosque in Gaza on July 29, Elbaz’s unit came under fire when the enemy cell arrived, hurling a grenade and firing at IDF soldiers.

The unit command instructed its members to move into the mosque, but Elbaz remained in his place and returned fire despite coming under intense enemy fire, including additional grenades. He remained alone in the ambush position, overcame a glitch in his firearm and killed four terrorists.

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