Former Israeli soldiers of the Lowcountry share perspectives on Israel-Hamas war

Two men of the Lowcountry say they're in constant communication with their loved ones making sure they're safe.
Published: Oct. 11, 2023 at 4:59 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 11, 2023 at 6:44 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Two former Israeli soldiers who live in the Charleston area say there’s nothing to compare the war that’s going back in their homeland of Israel to -- not even the Holocaust.

Eli Aboudaram of James Island served for Israel in the 1990s. His friend, Boaz Gelber, served for Israel in the early 2010s.

“We’re dealing with animals,” Gelber said. “These are terrorists.”

They both have parents, uncles, aunts, cousins and more back in Israel. Fortunately, all of their family has survived so far. However, it does not diminish the impact it’s causing them emotionally to see their land being destroyed, women getting raped and small, innocent children getting beheaded by a terrorist group.

“At some point, I just start crying,” Aboudaram said. “I couldn’t bear it anymore to see that that’s what they’re doing to kids, women and babies.”

They explain that Israel has had a history of providing electricity and water to Gaza to keep peace, amongst other things. Now, they say that is over, adding that Israel is all their people have and once it’s gone, their people have nothing.

“Every few minutes they have to go into the safe room and explain to the kids, ‘It’s fireworks outside, it’s fireworks outside,’” Aboudaram said. “‘But we need to see it from inside.’ That’s not a way to raise your kids.”

Gelber puts in perspective what Saturday was like when the surprise attack came from Gaza.

“Just like we sit here in our homes quietly on a Saturday not expecting anything,” Gelber said. “That’s exactly what happened in Israel. People were sitting at home with their kids. With their babies. People were having a party celebrating life. Celebrating peace. And out of nowhere they were gone just like that.”

Gelber has mixed feelings saying he’s glad he’s home with his daughters and wife but wishes he could serve and protect the rest of his family. He says he only has one regret.

“We should’ve finished it back then because you can see the results we are receiving for not taking care of it at the time,” Gelber said.

The two say they are not at war with Palestine and want no friction with the Palestinian people.

“We don’t want this to happen to anyone,” Aboudaram said. “But to prevent it to happen again, we have to do what we’re about to do.”

They add that Hamas must be erased.

“We’re fed up with it,” Gelber said. “We’re not going to allow it to happen anymore. And this is the last time it’s going to happen. Israel is going to go in and I pray that they finish it once and for all.”

To join alongside these two former soldiers in solidarity with Israel, attend the rally on Thursday for “Charleston Stands With Israel” at Charleston City Hall at 5:30 p.m.