I've been in Israel for almost three weeks now reporting on the war between the Jewish state and Hamas. In this interview, I spoke with Zev Neuwirth, a Florida-based military physician who dropped everything to fly to Israel and volunteer his services following the Hamas surprise attack on October 7.
While in the middle of celebrating the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah, Zev pulled his medical equipment and prepared to travel to Israel. Since then he has been working primarily alongside advanced tactical units of the Israel Defense Forces in order to treat military personnel injured in the war.
While Zev is an experienced medical professional, he became visibly emotional when discussing how he entered the Kfar Aba kibbutz to try to help survivors of the horrific terrorist attack. Kfar Aza was one of the communities in southern Israel most devastated on October 7, with over 100 victims.
Once the active fighting had mostly subsided along the southern border, Zev then pivoted to logistical assistance and making sure the Israeli forces had the equipment and training they needed. "Their response to my being there was probably the most heartwarming and the strongest motivation I could have ever asked for. Because they greeted me with joy and appreciation and heartfelt gratitude that here there was this physician, this doctor, military from the U.S. who put himself in harm's way just to be there with them for them," he said. "And I would continue to do so indefinitely."
I asked Zev about his emotional response to the war, given his previous combat experience. He told me that this was a lot tougher because "this is my blood. My right to exist. Not as a people but as a human."
"My family, my kids, my cousins, my brothers, my sisters wiped me off the face of the earth and I walk through the homes and I see the devastation, the blood, that's my blood on the floor. That's my child's blood on the floor. That's my cousin's blood on the floor. It affects me emotionally on a whole other level," he said.
Zev continued on to tell me that the level of atrocity he witness doesn't compare to anything he has witnessed in his career. "Somebody said 'oh Hamas, they're like animals.' I said God forbid, animals would never do anything like this."
"This, this was the bowls of hell that opened up and spewed its worst of its bile onto us," he said.
The interview ended on a hopeful note, with Zev dismissing those who would deny the horrific crimes committed in Kfar Aza and other Israeli communities. "You can't tell a denier. So we have to be strong... We've overcome every past horrific agenda that's been thrown at us and we will do the same thing here, but now we must end it. We cannot live in fear, we cannot live in terror."
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