I'm Not the Hero of the Day'

Corporal David Markovich stood at the entrance to the village of Ghajar yesterday, surrounded by photographers and reporters trying to extract a few words about the battle that he won almost single-handedly on Monday.

On Sunday night, Markovich and three other soldiers were stationed in a house on the Israeli side of Ghajar, which is split in two by the Israeli-Lebanese border. Their mission was to provide a surprise for any Hezbollah assailants, as there were signs that an attack was in the offing.

Shortly after 3 P.M. on Monday, Hezbollah fighters indeed broke into the village, firing in all directions. Some ran toward the Israel Defense Forces outpost, but found it empty. Others headed for the entrance to the village, where the house in which Markovich and his comrades were stationed was located.

"Everything around us was shaking," said Markovich, who began his army service just eight months ago. "One of the gang identified a terrorist. I shot him. Then they identified two more. I fired, and then again. The shelling generated a bit of pressure, but we functioned well. A comrade said, `There's a terrorist,' and I fired. It's all a matter of seconds, the entire business lasted about a minute."

Altogether, Markovich killed four Hezbollah gunmen. But he insisted on sharing the credit with his comrades. "I'm not the hero of the day," he said. "There were four of us there. One spotted and I shot. It's a team, with a commander. We simply ended up at the center of things ... This is what we train for."

But an officer standing nearby said that Markovich was being too modest. "This was excellent soldiering," he said. "If you had checked his magazine after the firing, you would have found that only perhaps eight bullets were missing."