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Israeli soldier seriously injured in October 7 terrorist attack finds new faith and gives hope to others

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In memory of the October 7 terrorist attack on Israel – now almost six months ago – 20-year-old IDF soldier Shalom Shitrit stood on one leg with crutches and spoke at the Armon Hotel & Conference in Stamford on March 2, 2024, Connecticut, to over 1,200 people to reveal what happened to him.

“I had no idea that the next few minutes would change my life, the life of the people of Israel and the life of every Jew,” he told the gathered crowd in part.

He went on to describe a horrific series of events – and how he has finally arrived at a place of hope while moving forward without so many others whose lives have been cruelly taken by terrorists.

Survivor of the Hamas terrorist attack on Israel reports pain and sadness over the loss of his “Angel” friend on October 23rd. 7

Shitrit told Fox News Digital in a few phone interviews that his faith was strengthened after his near death on Oct. 7. He spoke from Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv in Israel, where he is still undergoing therapy after losing his leg in the attack.

He said he grew up in a religious Jewish home but had not observed Shabbat for three years. After Oct. 7, he felt a closer connection to God and began observing Shabbat again, he said.

Shalom Shitrit, Israeli soldier, in 2 pictures

Shalom Shitrit, seen here in two different photos, told Fox News Digital on October 7, 2023: “I had no idea that the next few minutes would change my life, the lives of the people of Israel and the lives of… every Jew. Today he works hard to encourage others and share hope and faith. (Courtesy of Shalom Shitrit)

“When you live in Emunah (Hebrew for ‘faith’), it helps you… Whenever you don’t [have answers] to questions… I tell myself it’s for the good,” he said. “I really believe in it. I live it.”

Shitrit described what it was like to be stationed in southern Israel on that fateful day, just 200 meters from the Gaza border. (During telephone interviews, he was assisted by a friend who translated parts of his comments.)

The name of Shitrit’s brigade in English is “the protectors of Kibbutz Be’eri,” a close-knit agricultural community in the Negev Desert known as the Peace Kibbutz.

He lay in a pool of blood, cupping his hands and smearing blood all over his face and clothes, making it look as if he had been killed.

Here, to give just one example, lived Vivian Silver, a 74-year-old grandmother who regularly drove sick Palestinians from Gaza to Jerusalem so they could receive proper medical care. Hamas terrorists murdered her and over 130 other Be’eri residents.

According to The Times of Israel, they also kidnapped 29 of the approximately 1,108 people who lived there – many of whom dedicated their lives to helping Palestinians, as Silver did.

MOTHER OF AMERICAN-ISRAELI HOSTAGE TAKEN OCTOBER 7 SAYS HER FAITH HELPS THEM THROUGH THEIR DARK DEPTHS OF PAIN

In total, according to several reports, around 1,200 people were murdered in Israel that day. Kibbutz Be’eri was one of the most affected places.

That morning, Shitrit was patrolling outside his base, where 25 other soldiers were stationed, he said. At 6:10 a.m., he said, he first received text messages about a possible terrorist attack in Israel, and half an hour later he heard rockets hitting overhead.

He and his team found shelter in a known security area along the border.

Shalom shitrit

On the right is Shalom Shitrit with a friend, Noam Shahm, both in the IDF. (Courtesy of Shalom Shitrit)

Shitrit’s commander Tomer Barak pointed to the spot where he had spotted a terrorist. Shitrit opened his mortar and ran towards the area.

He told Fox News Digital that when he turned the corner, he came face to face with terrorists.

“I saw two terrorists right in front of my face, three feet between us. At that moment I simply opened fire. I killed them both before one of them managed to shoot my right leg.”

He kept a tight grip on his weapon the whole time, peering through the magnifying glass.

Shitrit dropped to the ground and called his friends for help, hoping to get a tourniquet – but they all struggled in battle. About an hour and a half later, he said, he heard screaming in Arabic and gunshots.

Shitrit remembered saying to himself: “If I stay, the terrorists will.” [might] Find me and [will] want to kill me.

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As he lay in a pool of blood, he cupped his hands and smeared blood all over his face and clothes, making it look as if he had been killed.

He kept a tight grip on his weapon the whole time, peering through the magnifying glass. Shitrit shot an unsuspecting terrorist as he walked past him.

“Bleeding continuously”

Shitrit stood on one leg and hid next to a wall. When he saw a grenade hurl toward his commander, Barak, and his comrade, Sagiv Cohen, he shouted to warn them – but when the shots rang out, they couldn’t escape. Only Cohen survived this explosion.

The two men helped each other tie tourniquets and take bullets from the guns of their slain friends.

Fourteen soldiers in Shitrit’s unit, all as close as brothers, were killed – and five, including Shitrit and Cohen, were injured, Shitrit told Fox News Digital.

Shitrit was one of eleven survivors.

Cohen and Shitrit shielded their eyes from shrapnel as they crawled under an Army vehicle. Shitrit remembered how the sand felt like balls on his skin. He told Fox News Digital: “I just closed my eyes. I bled non-stop. I said goodbye.”

Beneath the car, Cohen saved their lives by fatally shooting two terrorists.

Shitrit and Cohen helped each other tie tourniquets and take bullets from their slain friends’ guns. They called for help over the radio. About half an hour later, an armed vehicle arrived.

Shalom shitrit

Shalom Shitrit in the hospital after being rescued on October 7, 2023. At some point, in the midst of the shooting that day, he “said goodbye.” (Shalom Shitrit)

Shitrit was bleeding profusely but was still conscious and remembered getting into the tank with his friend. Shortly afterwards he lost consciousness – for a whole week.

Shitrit woke up heavily sedated at Soroka Medical Center and described horrific symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He constantly imagined that terrorists were near him and was so traumatized that he couldn’t sleep for four days.

Shitrit started hallucinating due to the medication he was taking. When he was transferred to Sheba Medical Center, he requested that it be removed – and was able to sleep through the night again.

His leg was amputated – he underwent six operations, he said.

“You can see it on their faces [the released hostages] suffered severe trauma… Many of them have signs of PTSD. You can’t sit still; they are excited.

In Sheba, Shitrit met with some of the released hostages kidnapped from the Supernova music festival, including 21-year-old French-Israeli woman Mia Schem, who was shot in her arm, and Maya Regev, 21, and her brother, Itay Regev, 19, both shot in the legs.

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(Of the approximately 250 people abducted by Hamas terrorists in Israel on October 7, more than 40 were music festival attendees – mostly young people in their teens and 20s who had been to the Supernova music festival, according to several reports. )

Shitrit noted that while the hostages appeared strong, they were likely suffering emotionally.

Shalom shitrit

Shalom Shitrit told Fox News Digital about the Americans who visit Israel to help the Jewish people through volunteer work and other humanitarian activities: “I want to say thank you…We see Americans coming all the way to Israel all the time, and that’s very .”, very heartwarming.” (Shalom Shitrit)

He said: “They exude strength but you can tell they’ve been through something… They want to talk about it in the media and.” [share] their stories about what Hamas did, but you can see from their faces that they have experienced severe trauma… Many of them have signs of post-traumatic stress disorder. You can’t sit still; they are excited.

He added: “We have to be there for these people.”

For his own rehabilitation therapy, Shitrit goes to a treatment center for wounded IDF soldiers in Kiryat Ono, Israel, affiliated with the nonprofit organization Belev Echad — which means “One Heart” in Hebrew. Belev Echad’s headquarters are in New York, but its location in Israel is a healing refuge for IDF soldiers recovering from physical and emotional trauma.

“Greatest form of therapy”

Rabbi Uriel Vigler, founder of Bel Echad, said the soldiers come to the house primarily to be together because “it’s like the greatest form of therapy there is.”

When a soldier looks into the eyes of a fellow warrior, “only they can understand each other’s pain.”

He said that when a soldier looks a comrade in the eyes, “only they can understand each other’s pain, only they can understand what they have been through – and.” [only they can know] the scenes of devastation they saw together.

Since October 7, there have been about 12,000 wounded soldiers, 1,500 of whom are being cared for in Belev Echad, the rabbi said.

A woman destroys Israeli hostage posters in front of prisoners’ families in New York City

Eight treatment rooms, including one for occupational therapy and one for physical rehabilitation, were quickly built to meet their needs. The facility is also equipped with a gym, a martial arts room and a pool for hydrotherapy sessions, Vigler said.

The center offers meals as well as physical, spiritual and psychological support. Belev Echad’s staff, including a trainer who was also shot in the legs, are wounded soldiers themselves, so they can identify on a personal level with the patients they care for, he also said.

Shalom shitrit skiing

Shalom Shitrit had to have his right leg amputated following the injuries he sustained in the terrorist attack against Israel on October 7, 2023. (Courtesy of Shalom Shitrit)

Despite the tremendous pain the soldiers endure, “they are happy to be alive, so happy to be with us,” Vigler said. “You don’t get depressed when you spend time with them. You actually get inspired.”

Shitrit often visits comrades in Shaba and Belev Echad.

The young soldier started an initiative called Kamim Mehadash, which means “rise again” in Hebrew. He ensures that bags containing essential items such as food, shampoo and headphones are delivered to soldiers on military bases.

Shitrit also speaks to other survivors in Israel to encourage them.

“As he spoke you could hear a pin drop. People cried and then they cheered.”

He has also flown to the United States to give speeches in New York City, Boston, Connecticut and elsewhere.

He recently told the audience in Stamford, Connecticut that IIAs he lived through the October 7 tragedy, he learned the importance of unity, especially given the political and religious divisions in Israel before the war.

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“Despite all the pain I have endured, no matter how frightening it was to be an inch away from death, I am honored to give of myself and sacrifice my right leg for unity among the Jewish people.” , he said.

“We are all one…Embrace your Jewish brothers and sisters.”

Robin Meyerson, founder and director of the Arizona chapter of Project Inspire, a Jewish nonprofit that invited Shitrit to speak in Connecticut, said, “I was in the audience…You could hear a pin drop while he was speaking. The people cried and…” then they cheered.”

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Regarding the Americans who support Israel from afar and those who also visit Israel as volunteers, Shitrit told Fox News Digital: “I want to say thank you…We constantly see Americans coming all the way to Israel, and that is very, very heartwarming.”

He added: “I’m at a loss for words.”

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