Yonatan at Premier


Yonatan at age 23 is an officer in the IDF. On October 7th, he was in Ashkelon ready to celebrate the chag. In the aftermath of the terrorist assault on the civilian communities in Southern Israel, and a few weeks after the war in Gaza began, Yonatan and his unit were in Khan Yunis, one of Gaza’s most populous cities, and the site of many drone attacks against the IDF.

Today, as you may have seen online, Yonatan is in New York at Five Towns Premier Nursing and Rehab Center  owned by community activist and philanthropist, Benjamin Landa. Ben and the administrator of Premier, Joe Benden, invited me to meet with Yonatan, who lost his left leg below the knee in a blast as he and his unit were working to dominate and control the part of Gaza that was under Hamas control.

He says he was sitting in an empty house they had commandeered to use as their base in the city. Suddenly as a result of RPG (Rapid Propelled Grenade) fire, a grenade slammed through a nearby window and hit Yonatan.

The RPG hit him just below the knee and severed his leg. Yonatan says if he would have been hit a few inches higher on his body, he would have died. Additionally, he says that about ten inches away from him was a box of hand grenades. Had the RPG hit the box, the entire building would have exploded.

It was his good fortune, he adds, that one of his colleagues nearby was a medic who was able to stop the bleeding while they made every effort to rush Yonatan to a hospital in Israel.

So how does an injured IDF officer end up being flown to New York to recover in a first-class rehab facility where he can be treated and properly fitted with a prosthetic and obtain the physical therapy he needs to walk again?

Yonatan is here in the Five Towns because of Ben Landa’s great contacts in Israel. As it turns out, Ben knew someone in Israel who knew Yonatan’s family. By coincidence, Yonatan has an aunt and uncle and some cousins living in Mill Basin in Brooklyn.

Yonatan, like so many others, is one of the great heroes of Israel. He’s not just another statistic or one of 13,500 soldiers who were injured during this war and is undergoing care in Israel. He’s here because Ben Landa reached out and said he can and wants to help.

Yonatan is personable and articulate, and talks about the intricacies and specifics of what it is like to be injured in a war and how much he appreciates the personal care and attention he is receiving from the staff at the Premier and all the people who come to visit him and wish him well and to say, of course, “Thank you!” n


Read more of Larry Gordon’s articles at 5TJT.com. Follow 5 Towns Jewish Times on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for updates and live videos. Comments, questions, and suggestions are welcome at 5TJT.com and on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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