Five years after near death, Israeli runs NYC marathon

Crossing the finish line at Sunday’s New York City Marathon, the scarring on the left side of his head was barely noticeable. Aharon Karov, 27, completed the race in 4:14:31, an impressive feat for anyone. Especially someone who was critically injured five years ago and thought dead.

(Times of Israel, Rachel Delia Benaim)

But his story begins even earlier, at a wedding.

On a cold Thursday in December 2008, Karov, then 22, married the love of his life, Tzvia, 19. They danced, sang, and did all the happy things that couples do.

The next morning at around 7 a.m., Karov, a platoon commander and 2nd Lt. in the IDF’s paratrooper unit, received a call from his superior officer informing him that there would be a war in Gaza — Operation Cast Lead — and that he was needed.

According to halacha and military law, a groom must only go to war on his wedding day for a milkhemet hova, a divinely ordained obligatory war. The operation in Gaza “was not one,” Karov recounted.

However, after long talks with his new wife, Karov decided to go to Gaza.

“In Israel, if there is a war, everyone goes because there a collectivity, a community. It was clear to me, to both of us, that I had to go,” said Karov, who had studied in a yeshiva in Netzarim, one of the communities destroyed in the 2005 Disengagement from Gaza.

Karov was a platoon commander for 30 soldiers whom he had trained throughout their army service. “I couldn’t send my men without me.”

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