Inspirational Israeli Soldier Aharon Karov Runs in New York City Marathon

Days After Wedding, He Nearly Died in Gaza Ambush

Renewed Life: After a near fatal injury during Operation Cast Lead, Aharon Karov was encouraged to take up running. This weekend, he will run the New York City Marathon.
Peter Hellman
Renewed Life: After a near fatal injury during Operation Cast Lead, Aharon Karov was encouraged to take up running. This weekend, he will run the New York City Marathon.

By Peter Hellman

Published November 02, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

On Jan 12, 2009, during the Israeli army’s operation in Gaza, an apparently mortally wounded paratrooper was helicoptered to a hospital in Israel. The left side of his face, including his nose, had been ripped away, and his body had been pierced by more than 500 shrapnel fragments.

It seemed unlikely that 2nd Lieutenant Aharon Karov, 21, a soldier in the elite Paratrooper Brigade 890, was going to survive. And if he did, it might have been as a vegetable. Nobody imagined that, just four years later, he would be running in the 2013 ING New York City Marathon.

But run he will, along with 81 other Israeli marathoners in a race that will draw close to 47,000 runners this Sunday.

Asked what his goal is for the event, he said: “I just want to finish the marathon, that’s all.”

In 2010, another former Israeli soldier, Gabi Yarkoni, who was blinded in a 1995 mission in Lebanon ran the marathon tethered to a “seeing” runner.

Karov’s effort on Sunday, as was Yarkoni’s, will be a run of resilience. Less than two weeks before being wounded, Karov had danced the night away at his own wedding. He was entitled to time off, but he and his bride, Tzvia, were in agreement that duty to the nation came first.

Twelve hours after saying their vows, and not without tears, Karov headed back to his unit. In Gaza, his soldiers were ordered to search a house that had been booby-trapped. Karov, who entered first, took the brunt of the huge explosion. The first soldier to reach Karov, as he lay motionless under the rubble, reported that he was dead.

Aboard the rescue helicopter, the wisp of life remaining in Karov was fading fast. A medic slit his lower throat to insert a breathing tube, a procedure never previously done in the air. Reviewing the X-ray showing shrapnel in Korvel’s head, “dangerously close to the dominant left side of his brain, not far from the speech region,” neurosurgeon Steve Jackson was not optimistic.

Jackson was amazed to learn that his patient had gone from his wedding into battle.

“You grow upon stories of heroes, and here I was was going to be operating on one,” says Jackson. Outside the waiting room, he told the weeping Tzvia, “For somebody so dedicated to his country as your husband, I have to give 150%.”

Jackson also promised that, if they had a son, he would, as a licensed mohel, perform the ritual circumcision.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • Mixed marriages in Israel are tough in times of peace. So, how do you maintain a family bubble in the midst of war? http://jd.fo/f4VeG
  • Despite the escalating violence in Israel, more and more Jews are leaving their homes in Alaska to make aliyah: http://jd.fo/g4SIa
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.