(photo credit: FACEBOOK)
The young Israeli-Canadian woman who stirred both controversy and admiration by leaving her comfortable life in Tel Aviv and taking up the fight against the Islamic State, returned to Israel on Monday after almost a year in Iraq and Syria.
Gill Rosenberg, 31, originally from Vancouver, shed light on the reasons she joined the Kurdish Peshmerga forces, telling Army Radio that "we Jews always say of the Holocaust - never again. In my opinion that's true not only for the Jews, but for all mankind - and especially for the women and children in Syria and Iraq."
"I saw children and women raped, murdered and sold into sexual slavery because of their religion," Rosenberg explained, adding that she felt that she had to do something about it.
Using Facebook, Rosenberg initially made contact with the Kurdish forces, who instructed her on how to reach them in Iraq.
"I went to Jordan and from there I flew to Erbil, which is in Iraq," Rosenberg revealed.
"From there I made contact with a number of Western volunteers on Facebook and they sent someone to collect me."
Rosenberg explained that she could not be fully transparent with all of her Kurdish comrades about her Jewish identity, despite it being one of the main drivers of her expedition to the war-torn region.
"The Kurds love Israel and the Jewish people, but there were locals that were possibly not so supportive," Rosenberg said.
"My commanders told me to be discreet about my Jewishness and just to say that I was Canadian."
Rosenberg, who served in the IDF after making aliya in 2006, and trained Kenyan soldiers in search and rescue missions during her service, explained that she was initially posted in Syria and then in Iraq and that sometimes fighting was heavy, while other times she was tasked with just holding the line.
Initial news of Rosenburg's departure for the strife-ridden region last winter raised curiosity regarding the self-styled freedom fighter.
Many expressed admiration for the young woman who called the opponents of the Islamic State "our brothers" and vowed to show the ultra-violent Sunni organization the meaning of "acharai," the IDF's battle-cry, which translates to, "after me."
Yet others questioned Rosenberg's motives and criticized her past, which includes four years spent behind bars for her involvement in a fake lottery scheme that saw elderly Americans cheated from hundreds of thousands, possibly even millions, of dollars.
Asked about why she left the campaign against the Islamic State and returned to Israel, Rosenberg said that the difficult decision "to leave her friends in the battlefield," was sparked by new forces in the region.
"The dynamics of the war changed dramatically and the Iranian involvement became more apparent."
Prior to her return, concern over Rosenburg's safety had made headlines after reports surfaced
alleging that she had been abducted by the Islamic State.
According to Islamist websites, Rosenberg was captured following an assault by Islamic State fighters against Kurdish sites, yet no proof or details of the incident were provided. Rosenberg quickly refuted the claims on her Facebook page
It would appear, however, that threats both real and imagined, finally swayed Rosenberg to end her fight.
"Things changed enough so that I felt that it was a good time to come home," Rosenberg told the interviewer, "and my home is Israel."
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