Money and spirits raised at fundraiser for wounded IDF veterans

Supporters hear about the healing power of the Beit Halochem community


A former Israeli soldier, injured in a terrorist attack, has told how support from a rehabilitation centre gave him the strength to open his own fitness studios.

Veteran paratrooper Ido Lazan, 41, who was shot in the chest and leg seven years ago while celebrating a friend’s birthday in Tel Aviv, underwent physiotherapy at the city’s Beit Halochem. He went on to open an X-fit studio at the centre and another called Bulletproof near the site of the attack.

Describing the charity as his “second home”, he told guests at the annual Beit Halochem UK fundraising dinner in London: “It was there that my feeling of the healing power of community was formed.”

Beit Halochem’s four centres cater for Israel’s 51,000 injured veterans and victims of terror, providing sporting opportunities, training sessions and adapted courses for those with PTSD. 

In 2019, the charity established the Veteran Games, an annual sporting event, which brings together UK and Israeli veterans in Israel. The Veteran Games recently became an independent charity and held its third event in Israel, with 62 British ex-servicemen and women taking part.

Arab Israeli activist Yosef Haddad, 37, who was injured in the Second Lebanon War in 2006, underwent rehabilitation at Beit Halochem. He said the organisation “doesn’t differentiate between Muslim, Druze, Jewish, Ashkenazi or Mizrachi. Every person is treated the same. Since the day I joined Beit Halochem, I realised I joined my second family. The veterans understand each other and help each other.” 

Recalling his time in the Israeli army, he told the 400 guests: “When the IDF defends Israel, it defends all the citizens of Israel. If I had to do it all over again, I would.”

Israeli Ambassador to the UK, Tzipi Hotovely, paid tribute to the charity “for bringing the great values of Israel to the front line” adding: “As an embassy we do a lot of government to government activities and a lot on trade, but we need to do more people to people. The Veteran Games is a beautiful example.”

BHUK trustee Orly Wolfson told guests: “Beit Halochem provides a vital lifeline for veterans and victims of terror. We can assure you the 51,000 are not forgotten.”

The evening at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London, which was chaired by Natalie Tahan, raised £1.25m for the charity.

Spencer Gelding, CEO of Beit Halochem UK, said: “Once again our donors have shown their unwavering support for the life-changing work of Beit Halochem.”

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