An Israeli woman who helped bring IDF hostage Gilad Shalit home and who rose through the ranks to become a major-general told a Jewish audience in London that it was “inspirational to see a whole nation come together to bring home one single soldier”.

Orna Barbivai, the first woman to be made Aluf (the IDF’s second highest rank), helped raise £300,000 as the guest speaker at the annual fundraising dinner of British Friends of Migdal Ohr on Monday at Radisson Blu Portman Hotel.

Barbivai told 270 guests that the IDF was “a meeting place to unify women, men, natives and immigrants, secular and religious – a human mosaic.”

Migdal Ohr’s fundraising focus this year is on Zoharim, an agricultural educational youth village in southern Israel which looks after Charedi boys who now find themselves unable to fit in within their ultra-Orthodox family lifestyles.

A charity spokesman said: “When they join the army they will need Zoharim’s support during leave from national service.”

Photos by  Blake Ezra Photography

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