Ex-soldiers from the Israel Defense Forces’ elite Golani brigade have joined the fight against Russia alongside the Ukrainian army, Hebrew-language media reported Wednesday.
One ex-soldier, Daniel, was interviewed on Israel’s Kan public broadcaster speaking from Mykolaiv, in southern Ukraine.
“I was in the army in Israel and now I’m here,” he said.
When asked what his family thought of him volunteering to join the fight, he answered that they were proud of him for “being a man.”
Another, Leonid, returned to his birthtown of Odessa to help the Ukrainians six years after immigrating to Israel and serving as a combat soldier in the IDF. Asked if it was scary coming to a warzone, Leonid answered? “Scary? What are you talking about? After the IDF, nothing is. We’re ready for anything.”
Asked to compare between Israel and the Ukraine’s army, Daniel said “Our army is strong. Here [in Ukraine], it’s not,” and gesturing to the gun given to him by Ukrainian authorities, he added, “it’s not a M16, or an M4 or a tabor, but it’s all good.”
In the days leading up to the invasion, the Ynet news site spoke to two more former Israeli soldiers.
“I hope there will be peace, but if not, I have to defend my family,” Sergei Novesky, who immigrated to Israel in the 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union, said. Dressed in an IDF uniform, Novesky is seen waving a Ukrainian flag.
David Cherkaski, 20, a Jewish Ukrainian, told Ynet he had enlisted in the Ukrainian army and that and his father are prepared to fight against Russia. Seen in Ukrainian fatigues alongside his father with a flowing white beard, the ultra-Orthodox Israeli vowed, “If there are Russians here in the city, we must take them captive and kill them.”
Meanwhile, Israeli Gregory “Grisha” Fiborovov is now a platoon commander in one of the Ukrainian forces most elite units.
“Compared to what it was before, the enemy is becoming much more aggressive and also provocative,” Fiborovov said referencing Russia prior to the invasion.
Fiborovov immigrated to Israel at the age of nine from St. Petersburg, Russia before moving to the Ukraine eight years ago, just as tensions were rising over Crimea. Although he is a permanent soldier in the Ukrainian army, he has yet to receive citizenship.