London dinner raises £1.25m for wounded Israeli war veterans charity

Beit Halochem's work is highlighted by beneficiaries


Beit Halochem UK, supporting disabled Israeli war veterans, raised a record £1.25 million from its London dinner, attended by more than 500 guests.

The dinner was held a fortnight after the inaugural Veteran Games at Beit Halochem’s centres in Israel, which involved 100 Britons and Israelis.

Participants included warrant officer Matt Tomlinson - recipient of the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross for his actions in Iraq - who said the experience had been "humbling, inspirational and at times emotional. We share common ground. We are strangers that met, yet we already know each other.” 

A guest of honour was Yotam Cohen, a former Israeli naval commando. In 2010, he sustained serious injury when members of his specialist platoon boarded the Mavi Marmara, the flagship of a flotilla crewed by an alliance of pro-Palestinian activists bound for Gaza.

Mr Cohen underwent a year of rehabilitation at Beit Halochem. "I had one goal - to return to my unit, to my squad, my friends and to protect the state of Israel. Thanks to Beit Halochem, I realised that goal.

"I was welcomed by people who really understood what was best for me. They became my friends, my brothers, my family.”

Another guest was Major Shlomi Biche, a former member of the IDF’s Nahal Infantry Brigade, who had made aliyah from Ethiopia at the age of six.

He had completed 11 years' service with the IDF when the second Lebanon War erupted. He was severely wounded in a clash with Hezbollah militants. Recovering in hospital, he learnt that one of his men, close friend Yo’an Zarbib, had been killed.

As part of his rehabilitation, he was brought to Beit Halochem - "a place I could go to without feeling judged by anyone and where I could slowly rebuild my strength among comrades”. He returned to the IDF as a base commander. 

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