Vakhnin was stationed on the security fence separating Israel from Gaza, protecting Israel from the Hamas-led ‘March of Return’ that has brought tens of thousands of Gazans to riot along the border. A group of children gathered at his section of the fence and began to approach the border. Vakhnin fired several shots in the air to disperse the crowd.
“I shot a few bullets into the air and after the third shot, I felt they had fired at me. I felt an explosion in my stomach,” he said. “I fell backwards down the embankment. The first thing I did was to call on the radio while I was still falling. I called out, “Vakhnin is hit, Vakhnin is hit!’ I remember everything after that. I was fully conscious until they brought me to the operating room.”
Vakhnin is prohibited from discussing many of the details of the event pending the completion of an IDF review of the incident, but he was thankful for his comrades’ quick reaction.
“I can say that everyone involved in the incident functioned precisely as expected,” Vakhnin said.
Walla News released an audio of the telephone conversation between Vakhnin and his father recorded while the soldier was being transported to the hospital.
“Father, I love you,” Vakhnin said.
“What happened?” his father said, clearly anxious.
“I got shot,” Vakhnin said. “Everything is okay.”
“Where are you?” his father asked.
“I don’t know, father. Somewhere. In the hospital.”
Vakhnin was released from the hospital on the eve of Yom Kippur but faces a long period of rehabilitation. In a recent interview with Walla, he expressed his determination to return to his army unit.
“I will do everything to return to my brigade,” he said, “even if they lower my medical profile.”
Five days before Vakhnin was shot, Aviv Levi, Vakhnin’s friend who also served in Givati, was shot and killed by a sniper. Levi was wearing a bulletproof vest but it is believed that the sniper used a special armor-piercing rifle and ammunition provided by Iran.
“Aviv was a friend of mine, we were doing our job,” Vakhnin said. “No matter how many others are wounded, we will continue to do it. As for me, I was saved by a miracle.”