More than 2,500 Technion students were called up to serve in the Israel-Hamas War. Some of them were wounded. One is Naor Ilouz. He grew up in Mitzpe Ramon, a small city of 5,000 people in Israel’s Negev desert in the south.  

“I spent my whole childhood there. I was a mischievous kid. I went to a Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) middle school, which I now know operated without a license, and I didn’t receive a good education there,” he said. In high school, he studied at a yeshiva and two years in a military boarding school.  

“In 10th grade, I was designated an ‘aspiring’ student and put in a class that teaches the lowest level of math. I was really angry, and decided I would go to the high-level math class. They tried to take me out. They called the principal. They even caught me cheating during the first test, but they gave me a second chance and I received the highest grade.  

“In 12th grade, I studied high-level physics at an external school, and thanks to the fact that I invested a great deal of effort in the last two years of high school, today I’m a student at the Technion, in the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering.” 

Fast forward to the current war. Ilouz was called up to emergency reserve duty as a medic. In the morning of November 8, the IDF carried out a surprise raid on a Hamas outpost. The raid, which relied on intelligence that pointed to tunnels and dozens of Hamas terrorists in the target area, combined attacks from the air with tanks, several infantry battalions, and additional forces.  

Within a short time, one of the soldiers was injured. Shortly after, they heard intensive gunfire from inside and one of the soldiers loudly alerted the others about a terrorist with an RPG (rocket-propelled grenade). Two minutes later, the soldier who was guarding the entrance to the building his unit was based in was shot. The commanders decided that Ilouz’s brigade should conduct a counterattack on the terrorist’s house.  

“The brigade went to attack the house; the terrorist waited for them in the stairwell and threw grenades at them. The first one didn’t explode but the second one did, and several soldiers were wounded with different degrees of injury. They were all moved to a nearby storage room.  

“I heard screams from the building next door and I hoped they weren’t from injured soldiers, but 10 seconds later I heard someone yelling, ‘Ilouz, Ilouz, there are wounded, and the company commander is among them.’”  

“Many bullets hit millimeters from our shoes and legs, and I called out, ‘they’re shooting at us.’ I was immediately shot by a Kalashnikov.”  

One of the bullets hit Ilouz in the shoulder and shrapnel sprayed his face after ricocheting off the wall next to him. Two other bullets aimed at him were stopped – one by his flak jacket and one by a grenade in his pouch.  

“When I reached the door of the storage room where the wounded were, I was hit by another round from a Kalashnikov. One of the bullets entered my right thigh; it broke the bone and tore the artery and the main vein. It all [felt like it] happened in slow motion.” 

Ilouz opened his emergency kit and tried to apply a tourniquet to himself – without success. He called a soldier to apply it and to undress him to look for other wounds.  

“At the same time, I looked at the conditions of the other wounded soldiers. I realized that I’m the most seriously wounded. I lost a lot of blood and floated in and out of consciousness.” 

During the entire time the fighting continued. The platoon commander was trying to protect the wounded. Another wounded soldier joined his comrades in the storage room – a soldier who was shot in the arm. 

 “Every 20 seconds, someone else shook me and yelled at me so that I would remain conscious, and everybody was looking at me with a helpless look. After all, I was the only medic there – and I was the most seriously wounded.” 

Eventually, Ilouz was laid on a stretcher and evacuated under fire to one of the tanks that reached the area. “From that moment, the worst psychological battle of my life began. I was in agonizing pain, weak to the point of nearly losing consciousness, naked, and freezing. I felt like a sardine in a tin can.  

“I asked the soldier in the tank to bring me water and to turn on the air-conditioning so that it would be easier for me to breathe. I sang songs to myself in order to stay awake. I kept repeating the names of my family members over and over, including the dogs. Anything to stay awake.” 

About an hour after the incident, the tank reached a safe zone where it was met by an armored personnel carrier and a paramedic. “Exhausted, I grabbed him, shook him and yelled: ‘ketamine, ketamine, ketamine!’ And why does it take him so long to insert an IV? But in retrospect I now know that I received the anesthesia drug very quickly.  

“I started to hallucinate. I saw long corridors, destroyed houses in Gaza that shrank and turned into a virtual computer game. I saw a smoke screen and then utter darkness, and immediately after that the black turned into intense black – what I felt at the time was death.” 

When they reached the border, Ilouz was transferred to an army ambulance. The sun woke him up. He remembers how the ambulance’s door opened when they arrived at Barzilai Hospital. “They brought me straight to the operating room and I saw dozens of people with white coats, and I yelled at them, ‘Put me under, put me under.’ And that’s what they did.” 

That evening, Ilouz woke up at 7, and since then he’s been trying to process what happened to him in Gaza. He has since been transferred to a rehab center at Sheba Medical Center. He is optimistic and believes he wasn’t wounded for no reason. “It’s a privilege. We were called to defend our homeland.”  

For Ilouz, the future is clear. “My dream is to establish an aerospace industry in the Negev, so that Israel won’t have to depend on outsiders and so that we will preserve Israel’s air superiority in the Middle East.”