Amit Kuza, Daniel Fahima and Gilat Colongy were injured badly at a Belgium terrorist attack. Yesterday they got received some closure as they stepped onto the plane that got them back to Israel from the horrific incident
Last July, in the height of summer tourism, an Israeli tour bus exploded in Burgas, a Belgium vacation town and a popular destination for Israeli families and teens. An Israeli recue delegation was rushed to the scene, taking off with two Hercules helicopters and one Boeing 707 in order to gather the injured Israeli citizens, who were treated at Burgas and Sophia Hospitals, back home. Three of the injured Israelis– Amit Kuza, Daniel Fahima and Gilat Colongy suffered severe injuries and flying them to Israel turned out to be a rather difficult mission.
Yesterday, all members of that life-changing flight met again: the wounded and their families, doctors and aerial crew members. All were back on that same Hercules helicopter which flew from Belgium to Israel. The emotionally shaken Israelis got the see their rescuers once again, and in turn, the rescuers got a chance to see Daniel, Amit and Gilat after five months of the recovery process. Together, they looked at photos from that unforgettable day and conjured up memories of the tough hours. “This is the first time I have gotten to see what really happened there, since I lost consciousness”, says Gilat Colongy who lost her husband Itzik at the attack and was critically injured herself. “I survived for my family, and that’s all thanks to you”.
“We had to convince the Bulgarian doctors to let us take you back”
At first, it wasn’t clear that Amit Daniel and Gilat would even be flown back to Israel. The Hercules Aerial team of the “Yellow Bird” squadron flew to Sophia, toward the hospital where the three were admitted. That was where the bold decision to fly them back was made, despite their critical injuries. “We had to convince the Bulgarian Doctors to let us take you back. It was a very complex situation”, says Colonel Ishay from the Home Front Command, who was part of the delegation. “Imagine that suddenly many foreign military people arrive at the hospital asking to take the injured with them”.
The flight back was conducted by the Hercules helicopter as it repeated in the communication device: “Aerial Ambulance, Aerial Ambulance”, in order to allow a quick flight towards Israel. 30 hours after the explosion, all injured persons and the bodies of the deceased were on Israeli soil. “Although the flight wasn’t a challenge for us, there was something about it that made it very special”, says Lieutenant Colonel Tal, commander of the squadron. “Operating as representatives of Israel, and assisting with what we can. There aren’t many countries that do things like this for their citizens”.