Col. Shai Siman-Tov will light the IDF's torch at the 71st Independence Day celebrations.
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)
An IDF colonel critically wounded during Operation Protective Edge in 2014 will light the IDF’s torch at the 71st Independence Day celebrations.
Col. Shai Siman-Tov was the deputy commander of the Golani’s 12th battalion during the IDF’s last war in the Gaza Strip and was critically injured during an infamous battle in Shejaia with Hamas, when a tunnel collapsed. A concrete beam hit his helmet and broke five vertebrae. He was airlifted in critical condition to Soroka-University Medical Center and has since been wheelchair-bound.
He returned to the military in 2015 and was promoted in rank and currently serves as a team leader at the IDF’s Tactical Command College.
He was recommended to the public committee for the selection of torch bearers by IDF Chief of the General Staff Lt.-Gen Aviv Kochavi, and approved by the chairman of the ministerial committee for symbols and ceremonies, Miri Regev.
Regev said that Siman-Tov “symbolizes the determination of the spirit and the strength of the soul to overcome the body’s ailments. The process of his recovery from his severe injury during Operation Protective Edge and his return to serve as an IDF commander is a story of the heroism of the spirit and the growing desire to overcome all obstacles... Col. Siman-Tov, I’m proud of you and salute you.”
This year’s Independence Day theme is “The Israeli Spirit” and other torch lighters include the mothers of the three teenagers, 16-year-olds Naftali Frenkel and Gilad Shaer and 19-year-old Eyal Yifrach, who were kidnapped from a hitchhiking post south of Jerusalem and killed by Hamas terrorists.
Their bodies were discovered two weeks later outside Hebron in the West Bank after an intensive search.
Their kidnapping and murder on June 12, 2014, led to Operation Protective Edge in which Siman-Tov was injured.
“I am grateful for the privilege of lighting a torch as an IDF representative and excited about the opportunity,” Siman-Tov said, adding, “I appreciate and cherish the opportunity given to me by my commanders to continue to serve in the Israel Defense Forces.”
Siman-Tov, who will light the torch along with his wife, was awarded a medal of honor by former IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot in 2017 for his successful return to IDF service after recovering from his injury.
“Victory for me is to return to the army, to continue serving in the army, to wear uniforms,” he said. “The fact the commanders decided I could stay in the army, to me, is a badge of honor, and I’m very appreciative.”
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