On October 5, 2023, Maj. (res.) Yotam Schleyer and his wife Noga landed in Israel for Noga’s sister’s wedding. On October 6, they went to the Henna ceremony.
On October 7 at 11 a.m., he was already on his way to get a gun and a uniform to defend Israel’s South.
Schleyer is the General Operations Commander of the Nahal Brigade and was on the front lines immediately.Many people’s accounts of the morning of October 7 include some version of “we weren’t sure what was happening.” Not Schleyer. He said that he and his fellow officers immediately understood that they were entering into something very serious.
‘We saw Israeli citizens executed, shot in the head’
They arrived at the Gaza border area and at the first army base they already knew they were “fighting with the new Nazis, the new ISIS,” Schleyer said.
“We saw bodies of terrorists. A lot of guns, machine guns, RPGs, trucks with guns, more than thirty bikes all over the area. We saw Israeli citizens dead on the road. Executed. Shot in the head. Families on the road. This was ISIS.”
Schleyer and his fellow soldiers spent the first week of the war protecting areas many of us are now familiar with from the news broadcasts’ announcements of rocket sirens. Sufa, Holit, and Kerem Shalom. Then, they began preparing for the ground invasion.
In that first week, Schleyer said, “I saw heroes.” One of the officers fighting alongside him took a bullet to the hand and another to the neck, and initially refused to leave his soldiers to get medical help. Eventually, Schleyer was able to convince him to move off the battlefield and treat his wounds.
“This is the story,” Schleyer explained. “The officers, the soldiers, that fight until the last minute – until the last bullet – to protect our people.”
IDF commander reveals how Hamas uses human shields in battle
Schleyer has been active in the efforts of the recent ground invasion and was in Gaza as recently as the day before speaking to the Jerusalem Post.
“We saw a lot of human shields,” he said. “People protecting the terrorists. Yesterday, we saw an old lady in a wheelchair on the road. And she was alone – we saw it was something [unusual]. When the unit came close to her, one of the terrorists came up from behind her and shot at us.”
“We saw an old lady in a wheelchair on the road…When the unit came close to her, one of the terrorists came up from behind her and shot at us.”
Maj. (res.) Yotam Schleyer
His unit was also the unit that found the copy of Mein Kampf in a child’s bedroom in Gaza in early November.
On November 11, Israel’s President Isaac Herzog revealed in a BBC interview that the IDF had found a copy of Mein Kampf in northern Gaza. He explained that it was found on the body of a terrorist in a child’s room which had been turned into a military operations base. The terrorist had written notes in the margins and, clearly, was learning from the book.
“By [failing] to understand what Hamas ideology is all about,” Herzog said at the time, gesturing to the book, “they’re basically supporting this ideology.”
For Schleyer and his comrades, the fight in Gaza is, without question, a fight against Nazis.
“People need to know that we are ready to stay here in the Gaza Strip to protect our nation,” he said. “We’re strong. We will be strong. And we feel the support of the Israeli people.”