Floridian Izzy Ezagui, gravely injured in Gaza in 2008, wasn’t going to let the loss of his left arm stop him from heading back to combat duty
He’d overcome seemingly insurmountable bureaucratic hurdles and got a posting on a base in the Negev. And so his next challenge began: He had to prove he could still fight.
Ezagui is the only combat soldier with an amputation to serve as an officer in the Israel Defense Forces reserves. For him, returning to the army meant proving to himself that his life could still be the same — even with a single arm.
“It’s a weird thing to send a guy with one arm into combat,” he told JTA. “I was so excited to go back and erase the damage that was done.”
Today, seven years after his injury, Ezagui travels around the United States, advocating for Israel’s moral standing and giving motivational speeches about overcoming injury.
But the most challenging element of his recovery wasn’t physical. It was convincing the army to let a one-armed soldier go back to war.
“When I woke up, everything was difficult,” Ezagui said. “Whether by force or innovation, there was always a solution waiting for me. I imagined that would translate to combat as well.”
Ezagui, now 27, grew up in a Chabad community in central Florida. He moved to Israel with his family in 2007 and enlisted in the IDF in 2008. He was stationed on the southern border that December, about to take part in Israel’s invasion of the Gaza Strip, when a mortar shell hit him, knocking him out and ripping off his dominant left arm.
Read the Remainder at Times of Israel