“I remember that I was literally feeling my body and I screamed ‘I have no leg, I have no leg!'” recalls Gali.
“It’s not normal that we both lost the same leg, we have more or less the same injury,” says Ben.
“And we both returned from there,” Gali adds.
We met Gali and Ben six weeks ago, since then we have been accompanying them. “We were with them in the surgeries. The doctors didn’t believe we would survive,” Gali says. We were there during the long nights when they lay bed by bed. “I don’t know how I would have coped if she hadn’t been here with me at the moment of crisis,” adds Ben. We also saw moments of joy and small victories. Out of the darkness of October Seven, we found great love and a chilling shared destiny.
“We both have the same injury, both of our right legs are amputated, it was not caught,” she says.
“Football is my whole life”
how did you meet
Gali: “We were sitting in a bar, me and a girlfriend, and then Ben came with his boyfriend, and then the next day he asked for my phone. And we were both after a breakup, and it was like we don’t want it, but then after a few months we said, well, we’ll commit.”
They have been together for seven years. Gali is an interior design student and has a son who works in real estate, but above all he is a soccer player.
“Football is my whole life. I played a lot in the national league, whether it’s Nazareth Illit, Kfar Kasem with whom I advanced to the national league, Ashdod City in League A.”
What are you on the field?
And what kind of player are you?
together for seven years. At the end of May, they flew to Italy for vacation and Ben prepared a little surprise for Gali.
Ben: “I brought her to Venice, we took a gondola with a singer and…”
Ben: “I also bought a lot of roses. We put on a song by Omar Adam that she wanted,” they laugh.
Gali: “And that’s it, and we got engaged. And a week later it happened.”
“I saw the grenade go into the safe”
That Saturday they went to a party to celebrate their son’s birthday. They were there together with family members and also with Shani, a close friend.
Gali: “We start to see the Pazmars and just start running towards the car, Ben and I are traveling with two in the car.”
Ben: “And people do this to you: No, don’t continue.”
Gali: “And we see a guard on the side of the road and a policeman signaling to go inside.”
This is the shelter at Alumim Junction, several dozen people were squeezed inside. Gali, Ben and Shani were in its interior.
Gali: “Then we start hearing gunshots.”
Ben: “You hear it slowly getting closer and closer.”
Gali: “Then we start to see the entrance to the shelter, about the people who were at the entrance to the shelter. I actually take Ben and Shani down so that they don’t get hit by a bullet and we are under pressure and we…”, Gali pauses, takes a deep breath and Ben continues: “After a few minutes they shoot I saw the grenade go in.”
Gali: “There was a very loud boom.”
Ben: “I told myself that’s it, there’s no way we’re going to get out of this.”
Gali: “We probably lost consciousness.”
It is not clear how much time passed until they regained consciousness, after the explosion of the grenades. When they open their eyes, everything is black.
Gali: “I remember seeing Shani actually coming out of the shelter and she’s talking on the phone and she says: ‘Gali and Netzi were hurt, I don’t know… I think they’re dead, I don’t know whether to run or stay’. And I can’t call her, I Can’t speak.”
“I start screaming ‘I don’t have a leg!'”
There is a video taken in Migunit in those minutes. We decided not to broadcast it, the scenes in it are unbearable.
Gali: “I remember I’m literally feeling my body and I start to enter the market and I’m screaming ‘I don’t have a leg! I don’t have a leg!’ And my son is next to me and he says to me: ‘Keep your strength, stop screaming. Keep your strength’. And he tells me: ‘If this is our destiny, if this is what has to happen, at least we are together.'”
Ben: “And I gave her a kiss and…”.
Gali: “It felt like the end.”
In those minutes, a police officer from YSM arrives at the scene. He enters the guardrail. His name is Dennis, he was part of the party’s security force. Ben and Gali meet him at the hospital.
Dennis: “What’s going on? How are you feeling?”
Gali: “We are glad to see you.”
Ben: “Still there, in the section?”
Dennis: “Yes, sure.”
He arrives and directs fire with a terrorist who shot the shield and then goes inside.
Denis: “I shouted inside if there is anyone alive there, many people are shouting, some people are not shouting anymore, they were panicked, scared.”
Gali: “Thanks to him we are here, completely. If he hadn’t arrived at this time and you handled this event the way he did, we wouldn’t be here.”
“I was sure Gali was dead”
Dennis stops vehicles that fled the party. He asks the drivers to take the injured to the ambulances that are waiting at the entrance to Otef.
Gali: “They pulled me out of the car first and put me on the car.”
Ben: “They took me out and I saw a girl lying outside the shelter at the entrance with black hair, a black tank top like Gali was wearing, and I was sure that Gali was the girl because they brought her out, that she was dead. That’s what I thought at that moment.”
Gali: “I remember the ride in the ambulance, I’m in shock and I’m screaming and we get to the hospital and I keep asking people, ‘Where’s Ben? Where’s Ben?'”
Ben: “I got to Soroka and I had really, really low indicators and they thought I wouldn’t last.”
when do you meet
Gali: “They take me out of the bed towards the room and then I pick up Ben two beds next to me. And I yell at him…”
Ben: “And I just saw her too, she walks by and I look at the bed and I just realize that it’s wavy.”
Gali: “That moment when we both realize that we are alive, it was a piece of stone that fell from the heart. You know, this thought of coming back from one place, it was for me the biggest nightmare that could be.”
It was a small moment of happiness that Saturday. Soon they will realize that they both lost the same leg, soon the fight will begin.
“Suddenly I realized that we are not the only ones”
Gali: “I remember my father entering the room, he approaches me and I say to him: ‘Dad, I don’t have a leg’. Then he says to me: ‘What do you mean?’ He’s shocked. Then I show him and he just falls on the floor and he starts crying. I realize together with him that… I don’t have a leg. I tell him that and I actually realize it myself.”
After two days, Ben and Gali moved to the Hillel Yaffe hospital in Hadera, from now on they are bed by bed and only now will they understand what happened at the party.
Gali: “One of the doctors asked me: ‘Are you from the incident?’ So I said to myself, ‘I’m from what event? I went to a party’. Then I realize that something big happened there, that we’re not the only ones.”
And at this moment they understand something else. Shani Gabai, the friend who was with them in Migunit, is missing. No one knows what happened to her.
“She’s a good friend of mine,” Ben says through tears. “And she’s a fighter, she’s a smiling girl, we know she was saved from the rescue. It turns out that she arrived, I don’t know how, in the direction of the party. She received first aid treatment at the party and they just don’t know what happened to her. Nothing, nothing.”
“I lost football too”
The team at Hillel Yaffe goes out of their way to help this couple. They are ready to do everything, from medical treatment to the challah ceremony in the ward. They even allow family members to bring their dog to visit the ward. So there are moments like that, but this journey is full of ups and downs.
Ben: “We would sit there and look out. There were two football fields there and I look at it and I start to cry, just start to cry. It’s like I lost the thing that I’ve invested my whole life in. It’s not just losing a leg. Obviously, that’s the hardest thing I’ve ever thought about At that moment it’s football. I don’t think I’ve yet managed to digest it to the end and understand.”
Gali: “He was fanatical about football. So suddenly now to think that it won’t be anymore.”
Three weeks have passed. Ben’s condition is improving.
“Today another piece was removed from my body,” says Ben.
So how much are you up to?
“I’m about to have 3 surgeries.”
Are you on 3. And Gali?
“I won, I’m 7”.
Waves take longer. Her hand was hit by shrapnel and she can’t move to crutches. Besides, she also has infections.
Gali: “Today I sat in front of the mirror in physical therapy and I see myself and my leg. It’s still a little difficult for me to look at it and accept it. It looks like some kind of nightmare that I will wake up from shortly.”
“There are moments when I even wish my family wouldn’t see me, but I don’t have a problem with Ben, because the shit I’m going through is also going through,” she says.
And do you look at him differently after all this?
“Yes. Ben and I are very different in our behavior, I’m more emotional and he’s more cold-hearted, and his coolness turned out to be a strength for me.”
And it also seems to me that even if he is in pain, he says less, right?
“He doesn’t say at all. That’s the thing, I remember that at first I asked the doctors here, I told them: ‘Why do I have pain even though I don’t?’ But they told me: ‘Gali, he’s in pain. He just doesn’t say'”
does not say.
“He doesn’t say. Suffers in silence it seems to me. He’s watching over me maybe like that.”
Did you choose well?
“Yes. I think so,” she laughs. “Not that I had any doubt before.”
Ben enters the room. “Gossip about you here.”
We gossiped about you.
At the hospital, Ben celebrates his birthday, the one that was supposed to be celebrated at a party in Ra’im. And Amir Dadon comes to sing for them. After a month, they are ready for the next stop on this journey and move to the rehabilitation department in Tel Hashomer.
It wasn’t your plan to be here in the middle of life, was it?
Ben: “We didn’t think at all that something like this could happen.”
Gali: “Five weeks. It feels like it was yesterday. There are moments when I’m optimistic and say it will be fine and it’s small and it’s all a leg, but there are also moments when I say, it’s not me.
They still have a long way to go, but the only couple in the rehabilitation department, which has dozens of wounded from the war, has something that no one else has, they have each other. And it’s true, they don’t have a hall yet and they are also debating about the entrance song to the canopy, but they already know exactly what the path to it will look like.
Gali: “We want to come to the wedding with the prosthesis, walking, only then.”
That’s the goal.
“That’s the goal.”
You two are walking in the canopy. Already imagining it at night?
Gali: “I am.”
Ben: “She already knows what prosthesis she wants and everything.”
Oh yes? what?
Gli: “With such white glitter, of course”.
“This darkness that is happening here now is the bright spot I have,” Gali says, “that I see something that I want to celebrate. This is our little victory.”