After Losing Both His Legs
Yarkoni Stands For Election
the last day of Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in August
2014, Gadi Yarkoni,
a former IDF member, was supervising the repair of an
electricity tower damaged by Hamas that morning. The son of
kibbutz pioneers, Gadi lived in Kibbutz Nirim, in the Eshkol
region, a stone’s throw from the Gaza border.
At the last moment before the cease fire took effect, a final
barrage of rocket fire hit the area. Gadi and two friends went
down, critically wounded by shrapnel.
After laying unconscious for two weeks at the Soroka Medical
Center in Beersheba, he opened his eyes and was astonished to
see that both his legs had been blown off.
And he was saddened to learn that his two childhood
friends who worked with him had been killed.
Gadi endured five exhausting months of recuperation in Tel Aviv.
During that difficult time, he desperately needed his wife and
children, but they were an hour and a half away. They could come
only twice a week to visit.
“My nine-year-old son who almost lost me,” Gadi said, “was
frightful of the terror tunnels that were discovered close to
our community. I couldn’t hug him and support him from far
Gadi walked back into his house with artificial legs. Despite
his tragic experiences, and mustering an endless source of
optimism, he decided to run for mayor of the Eshkol Regional
Council and improve the quality of life for his people. In June
2015 he stood for elections and won.
He realized that there was an urgent need for a rehab center in
Beersheba, at the hospital that saved his life, so that the
people of the Negev — Jew, Arab and Bedouin — won’t have to
travel all the way up to Tel Aviv like he did. He needed to be
in rehab twice a week but his responsibility as mayor didn’t
always allow him to commute that often.
“We need a great rehab department at Soroka,” Gadi pleaded at
the fourth annual American Friends of Soroka Medical Center
dinner at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in New York.
co-chair of the American Friends, said he was shocked to learn
that Soroka, a strategic asset to Israel, lacked inpatient
As Soroka is essential to Israel’s plans to develop the
Negev, he pledged that the American Friends will have this new
facility in place as soon as possible.
That vision sparked applause by the dinner guests, including Dr.
retired director of pediatric surgery at Soroka; Dan Abrams of ABC
News who served as emcee; Israeli Consul General
NYU law professor;