In 1967, Aliz Noi, a young paratrooper, lost his right leg below the knee in the battle for Jerusalem.
“You cannot imagine what a mental blow it is for a young man,”Aliz says. “In the beginning we didn’t know what to do.
On June 5, 1967, the Six-Day War broke out. I served in the paratroopers Brigade, as a 22-year-old Lieutenant, and took part in the battle for the liberation of Jerusalem.
Our forces broke through the Jordanian formation and advanced toward Jerusalem from the north. After a long night of fighting, at sunrise, we saw the holy places of Jerusalem for the first time, viewing the mosques on the Temple Mount glowing in the rising sun. None of us spoke. We were so moved. Tears choked our throats, overwhelmed and overjoyed. We all felt tremendous pride in having been chosen to take part in the liberation of the eternal capital of the Jewish people, our Holiest of places as well as the sacred religious sites of all monotheistic religions.
But the joy and emotion was quickly shattered by the realities of the ongoing battle. On that very day, quite a few members of my unit, including the commander, were killed, while I was severely wounded in the right leg. Luckily I was evacuated urgently to the hospital, which literally saved my life. However, two days later my condition left the doctors with no choice, and they had to amputate my leg. That happened exactly 54 years ago.
Do you wonder why it happened to you?
Fifty years earlier, that is 104 years ago, my grandfather fought in the First World War, and was also wounded in his right leg and died two years later because of the injury. Does history repeat itself? Is it destiny? Fate? Who knows?
On the same day that my right leg was amputated, our forces broke the Jordanian lines, penetrated the walls of Jerusalem and captured the Holy basin leading to what has since become the historic declaration : “Temple Mount is in our hands.”
Can you imagine what Jerusalem means for me, for my generation, for my People? For years, we lived in a divided Jerusalem, where we on the Western side were fenced off from the Holy places. We could only dream of visiting the Temple Mount. Jerusalem, mine and ours, our eternal capital since the days of the Bible was divided and parts of it ruled by others. Then on that day, our dream of thousands of years had finally been realized and Jerusalem had become united, under our control.
By nature, I certainly do not consider myself a hero, but I was flooded with exhilaration, excitement and a sense of pride to be part of Jerusalem’s heroic liberation. I came to view my injury and the heavy toll it exacted from my friends and comrades as our sacrifice for the cause: the historical liberation of Jerusalem. This has turned to a real source of strength for me during the painful, prolonged rehabilitation period that followed. It greatly helped me accept my personal loss.
How does your injury affect you today?
After my release from hospital, I re-entered active service and remained in the army for another 13 more years, ultimately retiring with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. My injury and rehabilitation were a painful, and time consuming process, but ultimately also a healthy one. Because I rose from the injury even more determined to make the most of life. To live it to the fullest. I learnt never to give up, to aim for the top and never give-in to difficulties.
My amputated leg has become part of me. It does remind me of its existence often enough, painfully so. However, it never gets in the way. I am physically active, and doing plenty of Extreme sport, like hiking, off road biking, and swimming.
In retrospect I feel very proud of the opportunity God has given me to help make Jerusalem a free city for all religions. The Holy places freely accessible to all worshippers.
Each year, my friends who survived the battle come to Jerusalem to commemorate our fallen friends who were far less fortunate than us, having made the ultimate sacrifice on the stones of Jerusalem.
I have a family, a wife who married me right after the injury and we mark 54th wedding anniversary this year. We have three wonderful sons, great daughters in law and no less than 8 amazing grandchildren. When My oldest granddaughter, which is about to retire from active duty in the IDF was a scouts counsellor she often used the story of my injury to pass along our heritage. I take pride that my personal life story lives on inspiring future generations that a united and free Jerusalem should never be taken for granted and that big causes may at time require large sacrifices.