No stopping Reuben: Soldier returns to active duty after being wounded by sniper

No stopping Reuben: Soldier returns to active duty after being wounded by sniper

Reuven Tonung

Reuven Tonung

From the Mako website, a profile of Reuben Touthang, Bnei Menashe soldier.

We’ve written in the past about the Bnei Menashe, whose Jewish identity was recognized only in recent years. The Bnei Menashe have been living in India and [with the help of organizations like Shavei Israel] have begun to immigrate in large numbers in recent years. Many of them serve in key positions in the army.

One of them is Sergeant Major Reuben Touthang, an NCO in the Kometz unit, in charge of maintaining the border fence.

Touthang has been serving in the IDF for ten years now, and even a serious injury caused by a sniper has not deterred him from his dedication.

Touthang, one of the first immigrants from the tribe of Manasseh, came to Israel in 1998. Today he lives in Kiryat Arba. After high school he studied practical engineering. He was drafted into an auto mechanic position and then switched course to warning systems studies.

In 2008, several months after he joined Kometz unit, Touthang was injured in the line of duty. While serving alongside the Givati Reconnaissance Battalion, he was hit by a sniper as he tried to close the Gaza security fence. At the end of a long rehabilitation process of eight months, during which his hand was paralyzed, he decided to return to his unit and continue the same work.

“People told me I’m crazy. I was offered to switch units, but I refused. I said I’d finish my service properly, and at the end I decided to stay on and make it a career,” he says.

Since returning to the unit, Touthang has taken part in all the operations in Gaza – including Cast Lead, Pillar of Defense and Protective Edge. In 2009, he also was awarded a commendation from the President on Independence Day. Occasionally, when he returns to the same spot in the fence, he recalls the dramatic moments – but he continues working.

“Always when coming down to the fence it brings fear,” he explains. “But when I start working I get more relaxed. Within ten to fifteen minutes of work, I am fine. You get used to it. Even if we hear gunfire, we chill and try to understand what is going on. The other side is always waiting for us, they know we are on the way, and we’ll get there.”

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Brian Blum
Brian Blum
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