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לסיפורים בעברית

Strategic Sacrifice: The Heroic Legacy of Major Yehuda Natan Cohen

Yehuda Natan Cohen

Major Yehuda Natan Cohen hailed from Shamot Mahula, underwent his studies at the High Yeshiva in Hispin, spent a year at Baali Preparatory School, and subsequently enlisted in the Givati Brigadel. His journey within the ranks led him to attain the esteemed rank of Major just as the impending war loomed.

On the morning of October 7, as Simchat Torah dawned, Yehuda swiftly exited his home, pausing to advise his father to pray before heading south. Alongside his comrades, he valiantly battled to safeguard the residents of Nahal Oz. Yet, when pressed by family for details, Yehuda modestly responded, "We were on guard duty." A week into the war, he seized a brief respite to visit T., another conscript. Recounting the events of Simchat Torah, Yehuda explained how he had hurriedly traveled south, displaying a humility that veiled the true heroism of the tale.

It wasn't until later that Yehuda's family learned the full account of the events in Nahal Oz. A skilled chess player, Yehuda meticulously crafted a strategic plan before entering combat. He thoroughly researched Nahal Oz, comprehending the settlement's layout, internal structure, and the number of terrorists within. Armed with this intelligence, he executed a battle that averted the tragedy experienced in nearby Bari, saving lives and emerging without any casualties.

T. revealed, "Nahal Oz is adjacent to Bari. Due to Yehuda's company's fighting and heroism, Nahal Oz saw ten dead and five kidnapped, but the soldiers concluded the battle unharmed." Yehuda's modesty extended to his phone calls from the war, where he simply claimed, "We are guarding Nahal Oz." It is now known that he engaged in a battle against dozens of terrorists.

T. fondly recalled Yehuda's ability to tackle weighty issues with a resonant voice. "At the Shabbat table with his family, meaningful conversations abounded. Five minutes later, he'd be playing 'catch' with his five-year-old nephews, only to engage in a chess match with a 70-year-old man. That was Yehuda—he connected with everyone."

During a ground maneuver in the Gaza Strip weeks later, Yehuda's strategic acumen came to the fore. Detecting suspicious movement, he charged into a building, neutralized terrorists, but tragically succumbed to a fatal bullet. Yehuda's deputy conveyed in a message to the soldiers' parents, "Yehuda saved the entire company with his death, not a millimeter less."

His brother-in-law, Tamir, recounted Yehuda's lifelong connection to the meaning of the Jewish people's chain of generations. He highlighted Yehuda's application of his chess prowess to the battlefield, where he analyzed the terrain strategically.

At Yehuda's shiva, T. observed, "Representatives from Nahal Oz, parents of Yehuda's soldiers in Gaza, and even one of Yehudas officers fiance—all gathered, uniting in their shared grief." Reflecting on the strength of the community, T. emphasized, "Shadem Mahola's administration is robust. We feel unique here. Everyone contributes, offering assistance with the children, cooking, and sending treats from towns across the country. Our focus remains on Shiva."

T. concluded with faith, stating, "Yehuda's family, survivors of the Holocasut from both sides of family, finds strength in his sacrifice. His chosen path is seen as part of the redemption of Israel, a resurrection. Though questions may arise about why they were spared, we believe he fell at the right time, on the right day, at the right minute, in the right position, and that belief greatly fortifies us."

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