Dr. Arik Schechter, an attending physician in the Department of Urology at Rambam Health Care Campus (Rambam) in Haifa, Israel has been serving in the IDF deep inside Gaza since the outbreak of the Swords of Iron War. With three sons and a son-in-law also serving, perhaps it should not have been such a surprise when he crossed paths with one of his sons in the fighting.
On the early morning of October 7, Rambam urologist Dr. Arik Schechter landed in Sicily for a holiday with friends. He checked his mobile phone, saw scenes of the attacks in the city of Sderot, one mile from the Gaza border, and without a second thought, was on a return flight to Israel. The next day he joined his IDF unit serving in the south of Israel. Schechter recalls, “My three sons had also been recruited – two are serving in Gaza, and the third in the Home Front Command. My son-in-law was also called up for military duty in Gaza.”
Hence, Dr. Schechter finds himself deeply concerned for his loved ones currently serving in the IDF. He explains that in such a situation love of family and country creates a type of duality in coping. “On one hand, we work together and support the soldiers to bring about victory, but, on the other hand, I am deeply concerned for my children’s wellbeing.” He adds that he is proud of his sons, “I tell myself that I have paved the way for them. They could contribute to Israel in many ways but they have chosen to serve in combat units. Their mother comes from a family of four military generals, so there was nowhere for them to run.”
Despite the complexities of war, the Schechter men maintain their morale, in part due to their ability to locate each other and briefly communicate. Recently, Dr. Shechter’s unit had completed a mission and was preparing to leave. “Suddenly, a tank passed in front of me, followed by soldiers in the commando uniform,” Shechter shares. “I called out to them, ‘Who are you?’ It was my son’s unit! After not having had contact with him for a few days, I was thrilled to reunite with him in Gaza. After we hugged, my son said, ‘Dad, why am I not surprised to see you here?’”
Dr. Schechter shares that he also had the opportunity to speak with his son-in-law, also serving in Gaza, through a military secure phone. We talked about my daughter and his wife, Maayan, who is due to give birth any day.” Dr. Schechter is uncertain he can be there for her, and the situation is even more challenging for his son-in-law. “His role in the IDF may not allow him to leave his unit at the spur of the moment.”
Dr. Schechter is a man of passion and commitment. He has spent 38 years in army service, 16 of which were as a volunteer. This year alone he has served 90 days in the IDF reserves. Regarding the current conflict, he is emphatic, “We have no choice. This chapter must bring about change in Israeli society, and the sacrifices will not be in vain.” Since the brutal terrorist attack on October 7, 2023, some 180 Rambam staff members have been called up for military reserve duty. Rambam salutes the bravery of all the soldiers fighting to defend the country. May this war end soon and everyone be reunited with their families.
This article is based on a Hebrew article that originally appeared on the YNet news website.