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Israeli reserve soldier makes Gaza War video diary offering 'unique perspective' on war

In interview, Sank defends Israel’s operation in Gaza as ‘necessary’

Footage from the war video of Israeli reserve soldier Sam Sank (Photo: Screenshot)

Israeli reserve soldier Sam Sank, originally from Great Britain, deployed to Gaza with his military unit shortly after the beginning of the ground campaign in October.

Sank performed his regular military service in the Paratrooper Brigade of the IDF, where he served as a commander. 

In the Gaza campaign, Sank served as the second in command of his unit. Alongside his regular military gear, Sank also wore an 'action camera' to document his daily experiences in the conflict. 

Sank recently sat down with PBS News Hour to talk about his experiences and his video diary. 

He received a call to report on Oct. 7. The following Monday, he was already operating in Kibbutz Kfar Aza with his unit. Kfar Aza was one of the worst-hit communities in the Gaza Envelope, along with Be’eri. 

Sank's unit was given the task of making sure the kibbutz was secure and clear of all Hamas presence. One completed, the unit underwent special training to prepare for entry into Gaza in the IDF ground campaign. 

San said he spent nearly two months in Gaza before finishing his reserve duty. Using his action camera, he documented each day of his unit's activities in the campaign. He shared some of that video with PBS. 

According to Sank, his experiences demonstrated how Hamas uses the strategy of human shields to protect Hamas terrorists while endangering civilians. 

“Gaza is arguably one of the most dense places in the world, and Hamas has decided to use that as a battlefield and to use human shields to protect themselves and to put all the civilians above the ground and all their ammunition and terrorists below the ground,” Sank told PBS. 

He also described the difficulty of fighting an enemy which suddenly appear out of hidden tunnels, and the smell of death on the battlefield. 

Sank responded to the attempt to place the blame for civilian deaths on Israeli forces.

When asked, “How can you justify all those thousands of women and children being killed during this conflict?” Sank responded, “I don’t think I can justify the numbers, but I can explain why that’s happened."

"We are dealing with an organization which has decided to put civilians at the forefront of their bases, of their battlefield,” he explained.

Sank also pushed back on the claim that Israel has not done enough to minimize civilian casualties in Gaza during the war.

“I think if there was a better way of doing it, then it would have been done,” Sank stated, saying he trusts the strategic command of the IDF to make the best decisions to protect both soldiers and civilians during the conflict. 

He also said Israel had to proceed, even if world opinion is against it. 

“The world as I see it will always be against Israel in this conflict,” he stated, “there is an underlying antisemitism that exists, this is just our generation’s persecution of Jews.” 

Sank believes that Israelis and Palestinians could live “side by side” when the conflict is over. 

“You look at conflicts that have existed over the history of the world, people that hated each other with a passion and they’re now living together in peace,” Sank said.

“Even a cold peace is better than what exists today.” 

He also said there would need to be changes on the Palestinian side for that peace to happen. 

“If Palestinians love their children more than they hate us, there will be peace. If they start celebrating life rather than celebrating death, there will be peace.” 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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