Former Orange County resident and Israel Defense Forces lone soldier Sahar Elbaz on Feb. 2 was honored at an elite citation ceremony for his bravery during Operation Protection Edge. Following his graduation from Tarbut V’Torah Community Day School two and a half years ago, Elbaz joined the IDF and was recruited to the combat Givati Brigade.
During the recent Gaza War, Sgt. Elbaz came under attack by five heavily armed terrorists. His commander ordered him to take cover and protect himself, yet Elbaz returned fire, killing four of the terrorists. By risking his own life, Sahar’s bravery saved the lives of his fellow soldiers for which he received the IDF’s citation of bravery, “Tzalash HaRamatkal.”
Just days prior to the ceremony, Lieutenant Colonel Eva Cohen of the LIBI Fund, realized that all the other soldiers would have their families present at this ceremony, except for Elbaz, whose parents live in Los Angeles. She decided to arrange a surprise visit in tribute to the young soldier.
“Shimon and Ilana Elbaz were ecstatic when I called them in Los Angeles and invited them to surprise Sahar for the citation ceremony,” Cohen said. “I am so happy we were able to make sure they were there. They were so proud to see their son’s dedication and bravery recognized by Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.”
A proud father, Shimon Elbaz explained, “The ceremony was amazing. We were really excited to see Sahar. It was a very emotional experience,” said Shimon, adding his gratitude toward LIBI for facilitating the surprise visit. LIBI USA is a non-profit organization that provides for the social, religious and educational needs of Israeli soldiers.
Sahar Elbaz award: IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz (6R) and Defense Minister Moshe Boogie Yaalon (7R) with Sahar Elbaz (4L) and other Israeli soldiers during a grant decorations, citations ceremony at the Palmachim Airbase on Feb 2, 2015. Photo by IDF Spokesperson
Sahar Elbaz award2: Left to right: Shimon Elbaz, Sahar Elbaz, Ilana Elbaz and Eva Cohen of the LIBI Fund at the award ceremony.