Israel’s oldest fighter, 95, says ‘don’t give up’ in mission to boost morale

A 95-year-old Jerusalem native has become the oldest reservist in the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF).

Drafted into the reserves, Ezra Yachin’s mission goes beyond the traditional duties of a soldier – he has been enlisted to boost morale among the troops by sharing his incredible life story, filled with resilience, hope, and the indomitable spirit that helped shape Israel.

Born in the tumultuous times of pre-independence Jerusalem, Yachin’s early years were marked by riots and unsettling scenes. Despite the challenges, he, along with his friends, played an instrumental role in the foundation of their nation.

Now, at the age of 95, his message to the soldiers he meets is simple: “Don’t give up, not even now.”

READ MORE: Hamas wants ‘US prisoners released’ in exchange for Israeli hostages

His mission comes as the latest Israel-Palestinian war reverberated around the world on Tuesday, as foreign governments tried to determine how many of their citizens were dead, missing or in need of medical help or flights home.

Numerous countries have also offered to play a role in mediating an end to the fighting, which already has killed at least 1,800 people. The death toll was expected to grow as Israel pummelled the Gaza Strip with airstrikes and sent Palestinians fleeing into UN shelters.

An official at the International Committee of the Red Cross says his organisation has been in touch with both Hamas and Israeli officials about accessing prisoners, but so far have had no access to them.

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Fabrizio Carboni, the regional director for the Near and Middle East for the ICRC, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that included the Israelis taken hostage by Hamas during their unprecedented incursion into Israel from the Gaza Strip.

“The level of violence is still very high but we’ve asked for access,” Carboni said from Geneva.

“We ask also for the civilians who have been captured to have an opportunity to communicate with their family, to tell them that they are safe and well. We also ask that some people who have nothing to do in prison or shouldn’t be captured to be released.”

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