Matan’s Heroism

March 29, 2024

Matan Falach grew up in Hod Hasharon, a pretty town south of Kfar Saba, the oldest of five children. A Staff Sergeant in the Nahal Brigade, he was one of the early troops that entered Gaza when the ground operation started.

On Dec. 17 he was in Palestine Square in Gaza City, commanding a squad of medics.

He and his team were in a warehouse guarding a group of Hamas prisoners. They saw a terrorist outside with a weapon, but their comms device malfunctioned so they couldn’t call to nearby soldiers. So, Sargeant Falach left three of his men guarding the prisoners and took one of his soldiers, Tomer, with him to go after the terrorist.  They followed him down alleys and passageways and knew that he was moving to a place where he could fire on the rest of Matan’s unit. But with his communications device malfunctioning, and over the noise of war – explosions, helicopters, tanks – he couldn’t call out and warn his fellow soldiers. So Matan and Tomer knew they had to continue the pursuit. But the terrorist, probably a local, knew the twists and turns and buildings and was able to shoot Matan in the hip, the bullet exiting out his back. Tomer took three bullets to the chest. His vest stopped the bullets but he took shrapnel in the arm.

Matan knew that on the ground, unable to move his legs, he was vulnerable to being killed by the Hamas fighter. So crawled on his belly to get into a position to shoot at the terrorist but was having great difficulty moving. Some of his team tried to help him but he pushed them away, knowing they were in the terrorist’s line of sight.

Eventually they pulled him inside a store. As he lay on the ground, in terrible pain, he saw across the street a group of twelve IDF soldiers setting a charge to open a building. Sgt. Falach realized that the second story of the building where the terrorist might be gave a line of sight to spray those soldiers with fire. So he continued to direct his squad to clear that building, while laying on the ground bleeding from his wound. The terrorist escaped from somewhere in the structure, but the action saved the twelve soldiers from being attacked.

Sgt. Falach was helicoptered straight to Sheba Medical Center. Drugged for the pain, he was shocked to see how many doctors, nurses and medics were waiting to assist on the helipad. He was asked for his mother’s telephone number so she could be notified. He refused, not wanting her to worry or be upset. Once he was in Sheba, a senior physician came to Matan and told him that if he wouldn’t give them his mother’s mobile number, they would send IDF officers to her house to inform her. Knowing how terrible it would be for her to get that knock on the door, he gave the doctor his mother’s number. Interestingly, the night Matan was shot, with no information, his mother couldn’t sleep and felt that something terrible was happening to her son.

In Sheba’s “Returning to Life” Department, established just for wounded soldiers, Matan found healing and camaraderie. He marveled at the way the staff took care of him, the love the injured soldiers received, and the skill of the therapists.

After nine weeks hospitalized at Sheba, Matan was finally discharged and is now going to the Medical Center multiple times a week for his physiotherapy. He walks with a crutch but is making steady progress and is proud to have finally been able to take the family dog for a walk.

Matan is also struggling with guilt over Tomer’s injury, the terrorist’s escape, and the fact that he is no longer able to fight. Sheba is also providing him with trauma counseling.

Released from IDF service, Matan is now looking for other ways to help Israel and has been inspired to dedicate his life to service.

We thank Matan, and all the brave soldiers protecting Israel.

Matan‘s mother Meirav beams to have her first-born son home and safe.

Her second-born, Matan‘s brother, is currently deployed in Gaza.

Am Yisrael Chai.


Don't miss out.

Sign up our weekly newsletter for the latest updates on medical advances and humanitarian efforts of Israel.