The Nahal Brigade soldier who was wounded on Sunday evening when an improvised bomb was thrown at troops during a riot in the northern part of the Gaza Strip is a lone soldier who left his family in California to move to Israel and enlist in the Israel Defense Forces.

A year-and-a-half ago, Yoadd Zaguri bid farewell to his family, who have a business in Los Angeles, and moved to Israel.

“He insisted on coming to Israel to make a contribution and join the army,” said Zaguri’s aunt, Yardena Ben-Avraham.

“He passed the sniper’s course and became an outstanding soldier,” she added.

“It was very hard for his parents when he enlisted. He worked with his dad at their business. He was a great athlete … and surfed a lot, and still decided to give it all up and come here. They [his parents] insisted that he not enlist, but he was determined to.

“When his parents were worried, Yoadd would calm them down and tell them everything was all right. That he’s still alive means everything,” said Ben-Avraham.

On Sunday, Zaguri was hospitalized in Ashkelon with shrapnel wounds to his neck. On Monday, he was in an induced coma and on a ventilator at Barzilai Medical Center.

Ella Avimor, Zaguri’s girlfriend, said that at first, she thought he had merely sustained light wounds.

“It’s really hard for me to understand what happened. I heard ‘shrapnel,’ and I thought it was a scratch. I was really optimistic. Then I realized it was his neck and a little more serious. I left [my] base and got to the hospital at three in the morning. I saw him and realized it was much worse than I thought. I thought I’d get there and we’d go home, but that isn’t what happened,” said Avimor.

Avimor and Zaguri met via mutual friends. “He’s my best friend. We’ve been together a year and five months,” she said.

Zaguri’s parents were on their way to Israel.

“They got a call from the army. His parents are really worried,” Ben-Avraham said, adding that Zaguri’s mother and father were due to arrive on Tuesday.