Former IDF soldier, symbol of determination for Israel’s war wounded, dies at 38

A soldier who had been shot in the head by an Arab sniper in a 2002 military operation passed away at age 38. He leaves behind a wife and two young children.

By World Israel News Staff

Rotem Langer, a paratrooper wounded in the head by a Palestinian sniper 17 years ago in Shechem during Operation Defensive Shield in 2002, passed away at 38 years of age. He had become a symbol of determination for IDF’s wounded, Ynet reports.

Langer was called up on the second night of Passover, March 28, 2002.

“Orr, my commander, rang in the evening and announced that in the morning everyone was coming back,” he said at the time, Ynet reported. “I didn’t ask why. War is a war. Just before we entered the Kasbah in Nablus, I phoned my then girlfriend and told her that soon I wouldn’t be available because we were going to a big party.”

On Friday, April 5, 2002, Langer left the building where his company was located to bring rations to other soldiers. He said normally they waited until dark to move outside but the soldiers who were in the APC (Armored Personnel Carrier) complained they were dying of hunger.

“I took a few steps in the path, and signaled to the APC with my hands to approach. It was a matter of a minute, nothing more, and suddenly I got hit,” he told Ynet in a past interview.

Langer went through a difficult convalescence. He lay unconscious for two and a half months. He required six head surgeries. For four years he didn’t speak as his left lobe was hit, which controlled speech, Ynet reports.

“I’m a medical miracle,” he would say.

Langer met Shelli, the woman who would become his wife, eight years ago.

Doctors feared that the injury to his left lobe erased his ability to experience emotions, she said.

The way they discovered Rotem could feel was when his father had set up a TV in his room and gave him earphones so as not to disturb others.

“When his brother, Eran, came to visit and sat down beside him, Rotem took out one of his earphones and gave it to him. That was the proof that his ability to feel and to experience wasn’t damaged,” Shelli said.

Rotem leaves behind his wife and two young children.