SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) – Assaf Harari grew up in Kibbutz Maagan Michael in Israel. It’s a communal town that shares almost everything between one another. They share a common pool of money, so that everyone is equal and taken care of. Assaf Harari said growing up there everyone always cared for each other.
Harari runs cross country for Syracuse University and studies engineering, But growing up Harari knew he would be deployed to the Israeli Defense Force. Before he thought about what he would study or where he would go to college, he would think about what his role would be in the IDF. At 18, Harari was training soldiers who would go to battle.
Now, he is watching those soldiers die in combat. 9 of his trainees died on the Oct. 7th, the first day Hamas attacked.
“10 to 15 soldiers that were staying at the base on a Saturday on a holy day just in case of something happening,” Harari said. “and they’re the first one to go there and you’re facing 200 terrorists. There’s just not much you can do. And they did a lot. They saved countless lives.”
He is not only watching his IDF peers struggle during the war, but also his family. Luckily, his family is in a safer part of Israel, however Harari said the country is so small that anybody could be at risk
“My family is okay. My best friend is still alive,” Harari said. “So they’re saying like, ‘Yeah, I’m fine.’ We’re not fine. Like we’re not fine.”
His sister and her boyfriend planned on going to a party in Israel last week. There were about 150 people at the party, all of which were captured by Hamas. Luckily, his sister never made it to the party, as she never woke up to the alarm she set before her nap.
“Her alarm went off and they kept sleeping. And this is the only reason she’s alive. Right now,” Harari said. “That could have been anybody”
He can give an analogy to explain how he feels watching the war from America: “Your house is burning and you’re outside just watching it burn,” said Harari. “You don’t really have anything to do. I pray that your friends and family are okay.”