Captain Adiya Hazani is a company commander in the Kfir Brigade. He is responsible for an area covering Jenin and Tulkarem.
When Cpt. Hazani received a call that a group of Palestinians in the area were stranded in a flood, he and his men were ready to help.
He agreed to answer a few questions about his life-saving rescue work.
How did you hear that Palestinians needed your help?
I received a call from the IDF Coordination and Liaison Administration that Palestinians were stranded, and that a number were reported missing.
At 5:30 pm on January 8, the Alexander river near Nablus, normally a dry bed, overflowed its banks due to the torrential rain that the entire region has been experiencing. A group of Palestinian civilians were attempting to travel from one village to another, but because the roads were flooded, they got trapped in their cars.
I realized that there was a real threat to life, so I took a chance, got in a jeep with my soldiers and drove down to the area.
What did you see when you arrived on the scene?
There were approximately 200-300 Palestinians gathered on the side of the road, trying to figure out how to rescue their neighbors who were stuck in their cars. The cars were trapped in the middle of the road, and the water was flowing rapidly around them — and rising quickly. We heard that there were children stranded as well.
I knew that if we didn’t act quickly, the people stuck in the water could die.
How did you rescue them?
At first, I tried to go in by foot, but I realized that it was too dangerous. Then I noticed a tractor sitting on the side of the road. I asked the owner of the tractor to drive me to the trapped cars. At first, he refused because he was afraid. Eventually, I managed to convince him that it was an emergency. I left my soldiers behind, took my rescue gear and went in with the driver.
We approached all three cars and rescued the people who were stuck inside each one. Beside every car, I got off of the the tractor and checked to make sure that there was no one trapped underwater.
On the way back, the road began to disintegrate. All our lives were in danger. Luckily, the driver managed to get away safely, and we reached higher ground.
The Palestinians on the side of the road started cheering. They were all very grateful, and thanked us profusely.
What made you want to risk your life in the middle of a storm?
Our role in the region is not easy. Believe me when I say that I understand we are in a complicated situation with the Palestinians. But at the end of the day, we’re all human beings. The commander of our regional brigade has repeatedly emphasized to those under his command that helping the Palestinian civilian population is a vital part of our role as IDF soldiers in the area.
I didn’t even think twice about it. People’s lives were in danger. I was ready to take the chance.
After this incident, my soldiers and I continued to rescue stranded Palestinians in the area throughout the night, but this story was undoubtedly the most memorable.
How did you find yourself in this role?
I’ve been in the IDF for more than 10 years now. After doing a pre-army preparatory course, I was drafted into the Golani Brigade. I decided to become an officer because I love this country, and because we have to protect it. I rose through the ranks and now I am the commander of an area covering Jenin and Tulkarem.
During the middle of my service I got married. Keeping my family safe is what drives me every day. I love my job and I love the soldiers who I command. Really all the credit should go to the soldiers — they’re the ones who are on guard, out in the storm, doing their jobs.