An increasing number of “lone soldiers” from California’s San Fernando Valley are prepared to fight with the Israel Defense Forces if and when they are called to duty.
American citizens such Los Angeles-native Katie Freeman and Woodland Hills resident Tommy Reegev “felt it was their duty as Jewish Americans to help Israel,” which is why they joined the IDF, reports CBS News in Los Angeles.
Freeman, who has a 10-month-old daughter, joined the IDF when she was 19. She now resides in Woodland Hills and says that, while she “doesn’t want to think about” being away from her daughter for a second, she is ready to go back to Israel if she is called upon to fight against Hamas. “If they do need me, I would be on the next flight,” she said.
Of approximately 5,000 lone soldiers who are fighting with the IDF, 15% are from the greater Los Angeles area, notes CBS. Lone soldiers are men and women who are willing to leave their countries of birth for a time to go and serve voluntarily alongside the IDF in defense of Israel.
Woodland Hills-native Max Steinberg died on Sunday while battling Hamas with the IDF’s Golani Brigade. The 24-year-old leaves behind two parents, a brother, and a sister. The Israeli consulate in Los Angeles announced Tuesday that Max’s funeral will be held on Wednesday in Israel.
But that hasn’t deterred individuals such as Tommy Reegev of West Hills, who joined the IDF when he was 18. “I’ve never been as scared as I was walking into Gaza,” he said, describing the chaotic war scene he had witnessed while fighting to protect Israel with the Israeli Army. He, too, is ready to go back and serve if he should receive the call.
For parents with children serving in Israel, the emotional toll can be a heavy one. “My heart is full of pride for him,” said Los Angeles native Elana Lukoff of her son, who is currently serving in Israel. “We all know what can happen… I’m frightened of every minute of every day, every second,” Lukoff said.