HUFFPOST VIDEO
07/24/2014 04:10 pm ET Updated Jul 24, 2014

This American Fought For Israel But Feels 'Terrible For The People In Gaza'

Two Americans serving in the Israel Defense Forces were killed last weekend in Gaza, but they’re not the only U.S. citizens fighting for Israel. One former lone soldier who fought in the Golani Brigade, sat down with HuffPost Live on Thursday, to discuss his motivations for joining and why he feels “terrible” for the victims of Gaza.

“I was always really politically aware ... but I felt that wasn’t enough,” Cohen told host Marc Lamont Hill. “I felt that I had to actually feel it on my flesh and not just go to Washington [for AIPAC] once a year and advocate for Israel.”

But after volunteering with the army and seeing the carnage firsthand, Cohen said his own opinions regarding the conflict shifted. While the former soldier feels for those in Gaza, he suggested that Hamas’ leadership could be responsible for much of the hardship.

“I do identify with the fact that some of the Palestinians have tough lives, and I don’t think that’s necessarily all Israel’s fault,” he said. “I think that a lot of that is due to their leadership. But I do understand the plight of Palestinians who are stuck under Hamas, a terrorist organization who’s killing their own people just to make Israel look bad in the world press. I feel terrible for them. I feel terrible for the people in Gaza.”

Cohen continues to support Israel but has set his convictions aside.

“The things that are coming out of there are atrocious,” Cohen said. “It doesn’t matter where you’re from. No one deserves to be treated that way, especially by the government you voted in.”

Watch the full HuffPost Live interview below:

ALSO ON HUFFPOST:

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Palestinian children, wounded in an Israeli strike on a compound housing a U.N. school in Beit Hanoun, cry as they lay on the floor at the emergency room of the Kamal Adwan hospital in Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip,Thursday, July 24, 2014.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Palestinian medics wheel a wounded boy into the Nasser hospital following an Israeli air strike near his home in Khan Younis, the southern Gaza Strip, Thursday, July 24, 2014.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    A Palestinian child, wounded in an Israeli strike on a compound housing a U.N. school in Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip, cries at the emergency room of the Kamal Adwan hospital in Beit Lahiya, Thursday, July 24, 2014.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    A Palestinian youth carries a child, wounded in an Israeli strike on a compound housing a U.N. school in Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip, into the emergency room of the Kamal Adwan hospital in Beit Lahiya, Thursday, July 24, 2014.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    A Palestinian boy cries after watching his wounded relatives being rushed to emergency rooms at the Nasser hospital following an Israeli air strike in Khan Younis, the southern Gaza Strip, Thursday, July 24, 2014.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    A Palestinian man carries a wounded woman to an emergency room at the Nasser hospital following an Israeli air strike near her home, in Khan Younis, the southern Gaza Strip, Thursday, July 24, 2014.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    A Palestinian child, wounded in an Israeli strike on a compound housing a U.N. school in Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip, is treated at the emergency room of the Kamal Adwan hospital in Beit Lahiya, Thursday, July 24, 2014.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    A Palestinian youth, wounded in an Israeli strike on a compound housing a U.N. school in Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip, cries in pain as he is treated at the emergency room of the Kamal Adwan hospital in Beit Lahiya, Thursday, July 24, 2014.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Palestinian children, wounded in an Israeli strike on a compound housing a U.N. school in Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip, cry as they lay on the floor at the emergency room of the Kamal Adwan hospital in Beit Lahiya, Thursday, July 24, 2014.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Palestinian children, wounded in an Israeli strike on a compound housing a U.N. school in Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip, cry as they lay on the floor at the emergency room of the Kamal Adwan hospital in Beit Lahiya, Thursday, July 24, 2014.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Palestinian children, wounded in an Israeli strike on a compound housing a U.N. school in Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip, cry as they lay on the floor of the emergency room of the Kamal Adwan hospital in Beit Lahiya, Thursday, July 24, 2014.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    A Palestinian child, wounded in an Israeli strike on a compound housing a U.N. school in Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip, cries at the emergency room of the Kamal Adwan hospital in Beit Lahiya, Thursday, July 24, 2014.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    A Palestinian child, wounded in an Israeli strike on a compound housing a U.N. school in Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip, is wheeled into the emergency room of the Kamal Adwan hospital in Beit Lahiya, Thursday, July 24, 2014.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Smoke from an Israeli strike rises over Gaza City, Thursday, July 24, 2014.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Smoke from an Israeli strike rises over Gaza City, Thursday, July 24, 2014.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Smoke from an Israeli strike rises over Gaza City, Thursday, July 24, 2014.
  • MARCO LONGARI via Getty Images
    A pool of blood is seen in the courtyard of a UN School in the northern Beit Hanun district of the Gaza Strip on July 24, 2014, after it was hit by an Israeli tank shell.
  • JACK GUEZ via Getty Images
    A picture taken from the southern Israeli border with the Gaza Strip shows buildings following an Israeli air strike east of Gaza City, on July 24, 2014.
  • JACK GUEZ via Getty Images
    A picture taken from the southern Israeli border with the Gaza Strip shows buildings following an Israeli air strike east of Gaza City, on July 24, 2014.
  • EPA
    Blood is seen among school desks in a UN-operated school after an Israeli attack in Beit Hanun town, northern Gaza strip, 24 July 2014.
  • EPA
    Blood is seen among school desks in a UN-operated school after an Israeli attack in Beit Hanun town, northern Gaza strip, 24 July 2014.
  • EPA
    Sheep stand near a pool of blood at a UN-operated school after an Israeli attack in Beit Hanun town, northern Gaza strip, 24 July 2014.

CONVERSATIONS