Exclusive Story: The brothers who fled Syria and joined IDF’s Intelligence Corps
They took nothing from their old home, crossed the border by foot in the dark and had gun bullets flying over their heads. Now they serve at the same base in the IDF’s elite 8200 intelligence unit. Their story is one of bravery and determination.
As they look at pictures and videos showing the ruins of the battle-scarred Syrian city of Aleppo, the three brothers who are now serving in the IDF’s elite intelligence 8200 unit can barely recognize the place they grew up in. Channel 2 News Online met them for an exclusive interview.
They were raised as Syrian children, but learned biblical Hebrew in Jewish education centers. Their parents told them from a very early age that someday they were all hoping to flee Syria and make Aliyah to the holy land. When they heard about other families who managed to escape from the Syrian regime and cross the border into Israel, their determination grew stronger. Their mother reveled their plan to the eldest brother, who was 19 at that time. They secretly contacted the Jewish Agency for assistance, while keeping it a secret from all the other family members.
Then one day, while the three were in the middle of a class in their Jewish school, the signal was given. It was time. The eldest ordered his two younger brothers to come home immediately and put on two pairs of pants and socks. “What for?” they investigated, at which point he revealed to them: “We’re going to Israel today.”
The eldest brother led them to the meeting point, where they met with their parents and together started a two-hour drive towards the border. When they got there, they were joined by two guides and started their long journey by foot in pitch-dark. Despite the fear and the cold, they did their best to keep quiet, knowing how harsh a punishment they would be given back in Syria if caught. The middle brother, who was 14 then, recalls his feeling during those crucial moments: “I was really scared and didn’t want to move, but I felt that I had no choice, that I would be risking everyone else if I stayed.”
Suddenly, moments after successfully crossing the border, they heard shooting. They realized they had been spotted by IDF soldiers and taken for illegal infiltrators. The father ordered everyone to run for their lives, but the eldest brother was hit, lost consciousness and was captured by the soldiers. When he woke up, he tried to speak with them but they couldn’t understand him. They transferred him to a hospital, where he was questioned about his intentions and revealed his story. It would be weeks until he would finally be reunited with his family members, who had been hiding for over a month.
The family lived in Holon and started learning Hebrew at an Ulpan. The eldest brother, who went through long physical therapy to recover from his injuries, was the first to volunteer to serve in the IDF. His cousins, who had also fled Syria, convinced him to join the elite 8200 intelligence unit, where he could take advantage of his knowledge of Arabic. His two younger brothers quickly followed in his footsteps.
Today, all three of them serve in the same army base in central Israel. The youngest brother is now an officer, and commands the middle brother. But they claim they manage to keep things practical and not let the family connection get in the way. “We contribute to the security of Israel on a daily basis, but we cannot speak of what it is that we do,” they say. “For each of us this is like a dream come true. There is no place better to express your Zionism than the Intelligence Corps.”
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