Gill Rosenberg (R) with the Kurds. (Photo: Facebook)
Gill Rosenberg with the Kurds

Israeli-Canadian Gill Rosenberg returned to Israel after fighting with the Kurds against ISIS in Syria and Iraq. She plans to use her experience to advocate for the rights of Iraqi minorities.

Israeli-Canadian Gill Rosenberg has returned to Israel after 8 months fighting with the Kurds in Syria and Iraq. The IDF veteran plans to use to her experience to advocate for the rights of minority groups in Iraq.

Rosenberg was interrogated by the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service, upon her return to Israel, but released afterwards. “In the month of November 2014, it was published that Ms. Gill Rosenberg joined the lines of the Kurdish rebels in order to fight against Daesh [ISIS]. As is therefore required, at the time of her entry to Israel, Rosenberg was questioned on the subject and allowed to go on her way,” the Shin Bet affirmed.

Rosenberg served in the IDF in a search and rescue unit. She made headlines in 2014 by traveling illegally to Syria to join the women’s division of the YPG (the People’s Protection Units), the Kurdish militia in Syria. She transferred to Iraq in January due to the prevalence of the belief that Israel and the US are behind the rise of ISIS, she said in an interview with Ynet following her arrival. She departed Iraq at the start of July and spent a week in Paris before deciding to return to Israel.

“It’s hard to leave. It’s hard to leave your friends behind. It’s something that’s on my mind constantly,” Rosenberg said. “I’m sitting at the Sheraton on the beach in Tel Aviv and my friends are getting mortared at the front line in Nineveh in Iraq.”

Rosenberg described the difficult conditions in Kurdistan, saying, “It’s a country at war, so it’s difficult. Kurdistan, besides just the front lines, they have three million refugees from that whole region that are displaced and it’s mostly women and children. The humanitarian situation there is in a huge crisis.”

There was some question as to whether Rosenberg would be able to return to Israel. Because Syria and Iraq are technically still at war with Israel, Israeli citizens are prohibited by law from traveling there. Several Arab-Israelis have been arrested and tried for traveling to Syria to join ISIS. However, many Israelis are sympathetic to the Kurds, viewing them as a fellow minority nation struggling for independence in the Middle East.

Had Rosenberg been arrested, it would not have been her first time in trouble with the law. Rosenberg was sentenced to four years in prison in 2009 for participating in an international telephone scam targeting the elderly. She served three years in US prison before being deported to Israel.

By: Sara Abramowicz, United with Israel