Gill Rosenberg, a Canadian-Israeli woman who joined Kurdish militants fighting the Islamic State, has reportedly returned to Israel late Sunday, after leaving Iraq more than a week ago.
In an interview with Israeli news site Ynet, the 31-year-old Rosenberg explained why she left the battle field, and says “it good to be home. As of now, I have no plan returning.”
Reports of Rosenberg leaving Israel to join Kurdish forces first surfaced in November 2014.
The Shin Bet – Israel’s internal security service, who reportedly questioned her upon her return – claims she was in Syria from November until the beginning of 2015, when she travelled to Iraq to fight alongside the Kurdish Peshmerga forces. She reportedly left Iraq a week and a half ago, flying first to Paris and finally to Israel.
According to the report, the complex political and military dynamics, accented by Iran’s increased presence in the field, forced her to leave. “Iran’s role and ISIS’s advance led me to understand that the time had come return to Israel,” she said.
Rosenberg, who immigrated to Israel in 2006, cites her Jewish identity as part of the reason she decided to travel to the war-torn region and take action against ISIS’s atrocities. “As Jews, we say ‘never again’ and there is no difference between Jews and any other human being. [The situation in Syria and Iraq] touched my heart and I want to do something to help.” According to her, she knew the Kurdish Peshmerga forces have female fighters and decided that’s where she would go.
In the interview, she blasts those who blame Israel and the U.S. for aiding ISIS. “These two government do not train Daesh (the Arab acronym for ISIS) but still there are many people who think that way, and it’s not true and it’s frustrating to hear such allegations.
“I wasn’t sure I would ever come back to Israel,” she told Ynet, adding that “I had a hard time leaving the friend I fought alongside with.” She says that “the thought of sitting at the beach while my friends were being slaughter” plagued her throughout her time there.
Nonetheless, her time there was no picnic. “Everything was good. But still, it’s a country at war so it’s difficult. Besides the front lines they have three million refugees that are displaced… mostly women and children… the humanitarian situation there is in a huge crisis,” she told the Israeli site.
And what about the future? Rosenberg says she plans to focus on political advocacy and wants to increase awareness to the dire situation of Kurd and refugees in the area. “I plan to spend my time in political activism, raising awareness instead of being on the front line. I want to work for the rights of Kurds in Iraq and other minorities.”
In December 2014, a local report said she had been captured by ISIS, but Rosenberg quelled the rumors, posting on her Facebook that she was “safe and secure” and not captured by ISIS.
Israel Radio aired an interview with Rosenberg earlier in November in which she said she had travelled to Iraq, was training with Kurdish guerrillas and would fight in neighboring Syria.
“They are our brothers. They are good people. They love life, a lot like us, really,” she told Israel Radio, explaining her decision to enter the combat zone in northern Syria.