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Soldiers who lost limbs in Gaza fighting are finding healing on Israel's amputee soccer team

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Soldiers who lost limbs in Gaza fighting are finding healing on Israel's amputee soccer team
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Soldiers who lost limbs in Gaza fighting are finding healing on Israel's amputee soccer team

2024-04-19 19:41 Last Updated At:20:00

RAMAT GAN, Israel (AP) — When Ben Binyamin was left for dead, his right leg blown off during the Hamas attack on the Tribe of Nova music festival, the Israeli professional soccer player thought he would never again play the game he loved.

“When I woke up,” the 29-year-old said, “I felt I was going to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair.”

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Israel Amputee Football Team soccer players take part in a practice session with young players from a local team in Ramat Gan, Thursday, April 11, 2024. The team offers players the excitement of competition, an outlet for their energies and the healing powers of sport, of overcoming the mental and physical challenges of disability. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

RAMAT GAN, Israel (AP) — When Ben Binyamin was left for dead, his right leg blown off during the Hamas attack on the Tribe of Nova music festival, the Israeli professional soccer player thought he would never again play the game he loved.

The soccer player of Israel Amputee Football Team, Ben Binyamin, right, stretches after a practice session in Ramat Gan, Thursday, April 11, 2024. The team offers players the excitement of competition, an outlet for their energies and the healing powers of sport, of overcoming the mental and physical challenges of disability. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

The soccer player of Israel Amputee Football Team, Ben Binyamin, right, stretches after a practice session in Ramat Gan, Thursday, April 11, 2024. The team offers players the excitement of competition, an outlet for their energies and the healing powers of sport, of overcoming the mental and physical challenges of disability. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Wearing a device that measures his energy consumption, the Israel Amputee Football Team player, Ben Maman, left, fights for the ball with a young soccer player from a local team during a practice session in Ramat Gan, Thursday, April 11, 2024. Amputee football stands out as a disability sport because the athletes aren't in wheelchairs. It is played with six outfield players who have lower extremity amputations and play with crutches and without prosthetics. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Wearing a device that measures his energy consumption, the Israel Amputee Football Team player, Ben Maman, left, fights for the ball with a young soccer player from a local team during a practice session in Ramat Gan, Thursday, April 11, 2024. Amputee football stands out as a disability sport because the athletes aren't in wheelchairs. It is played with six outfield players who have lower extremity amputations and play with crutches and without prosthetics. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Israel Amputee Football Team player Shaked Bitton, center, fights for the ball with a young soccer player from a local team during a practice session in Ramat Gan, Thursday, April 11, 2024. Bitton, 21, of Jerusalem said he was shot at night in Gaza, twice, by a sniper with a 0.50 caliber round, the type that can blast through concrete. "I heard two shots, I fell down, I looked back," he said, "and I saw my leg." (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Israel Amputee Football Team player Shaked Bitton, center, fights for the ball with a young soccer player from a local team during a practice session in Ramat Gan, Thursday, April 11, 2024. Bitton, 21, of Jerusalem said he was shot at night in Gaza, twice, by a sniper with a 0.50 caliber round, the type that can blast through concrete. "I heard two shots, I fell down, I looked back," he said, "and I saw my leg." (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

An Israel Amputee Football Team soccer player controls the ball during a practice session in Ramat Gan, Thursday, April 11, 2024. Amputee football stands out as a disability sport because the athletes aren't in wheelchairs. It is played with six outfield players who have lower extremity amputations and play with crutches and without prosthetics. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

An Israel Amputee Football Team soccer player controls the ball during a practice session in Ramat Gan, Thursday, April 11, 2024. Amputee football stands out as a disability sport because the athletes aren't in wheelchairs. It is played with six outfield players who have lower extremity amputations and play with crutches and without prosthetics. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Israel Amputee Football Team soccer player, left, Omer Gliksta kicks the ball as his teammate, the goalkeeper, Or Hershkovits, tries to block it during a practice session in Ramat Gan, Thursday, April 11, 2024. Glikstal, 20, of Haifa, was a dedicated athlete who played football regularly. But during a battle in Gaza in November against Hamas militants, he was struck in the left foot by a rocket-propelled grenade. Being on the amputee team has renewed him, mentally and physically. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Israel Amputee Football Team soccer player, left, Omer Gliksta kicks the ball as his teammate, the goalkeeper, Or Hershkovits, tries to block it during a practice session in Ramat Gan, Thursday, April 11, 2024. Glikstal, 20, of Haifa, was a dedicated athlete who played football regularly. But during a battle in Gaza in November against Hamas militants, he was struck in the left foot by a rocket-propelled grenade. Being on the amputee team has renewed him, mentally and physically. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

The coach of the Israel Amputee Football Team, Sharon Paz, center, gives instructions to his players during a practice session in Ramat Gan, Thursday, April 11, 2024. The team practices twice a week in the evening at a stadium in Ramat Gan. Altshuler Shaham Investment House is a financial sponsor of the team, but more sponsors are being sought to help defray the costs of competition and travel. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

The coach of the Israel Amputee Football Team, Sharon Paz, center, gives instructions to his players during a practice session in Ramat Gan, Thursday, April 11, 2024. The team practices twice a week in the evening at a stadium in Ramat Gan. Altshuler Shaham Investment House is a financial sponsor of the team, but more sponsors are being sought to help defray the costs of competition and travel. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Or Hershkovits, goalkeeper of Israel Amputee Football Team, right, is helped by a teammate to tie his soccer cleat before a practice session in Ramat Gan, Thursday, April 11, 2024. Amputee football stands out as a disability sport because the athletes aren't in wheelchairs. It is played with six outfield players who have lower extremity amputations and play with crutches and without prosthetics. Each team also has one goalkeeper, who has an upper extremity amputation. The pitch is roughly half the size of standard.(AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Or Hershkovits, goalkeeper of Israel Amputee Football Team, right, is helped by a teammate to tie his soccer cleat before a practice session in Ramat Gan, Thursday, April 11, 2024. Amputee football stands out as a disability sport because the athletes aren't in wheelchairs. It is played with six outfield players who have lower extremity amputations and play with crutches and without prosthetics. Each team also has one goalkeeper, who has an upper extremity amputation. The pitch is roughly half the size of standard.(AP Photo/Leo Correa)

The soccer player of Israel Amputee Football Team, Omer Glikstal, center, gets ready for a practice session in Ramat Gan, Thursday, April 11, 2024. The team practices two evenings a week at the stadium in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan, first with warm-ups and drills, then practice games - each man undeterred by the absence of an arm or a leg from an accident, a war injury or a birth defect. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

The soccer player of Israel Amputee Football Team, Omer Glikstal, center, gets ready for a practice session in Ramat Gan, Thursday, April 11, 2024. The team practices two evenings a week at the stadium in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan, first with warm-ups and drills, then practice games - each man undeterred by the absence of an arm or a leg from an accident, a war injury or a birth defect. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Israel Amputee Football Team players Shaked Bitton left, and Ben Binyamin wear their soccer cleats before a practice session in Ramat Gan, Thursday, April 11, 2024. The team practices two evenings a week at the stadium in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan, first with warm-ups and drills, then practice games - each man undeterred by the absence of an arm or a leg from an accident, a war injury or a birth defect. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Israel Amputee Football Team players Shaked Bitton left, and Ben Binyamin wear their soccer cleats before a practice session in Ramat Gan, Thursday, April 11, 2024. The team practices two evenings a week at the stadium in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan, first with warm-ups and drills, then practice games - each man undeterred by the absence of an arm or a leg from an accident, a war injury or a birth defect. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Israel Amputee Football Team player, Ben Binyamin, center, prepares to kick the ball during practice session in Ramat Gan, Thursday, April 11, 2024. During the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas militants at the Tribe of Nova music festival, Binyamin, 29, raced into an air raid shelter, but attackers fired shots and then threw in grenades. He was seriously wounded; his right leg was blown off. He was left for dead. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Israel Amputee Football Team player, Ben Binyamin, center, prepares to kick the ball during practice session in Ramat Gan, Thursday, April 11, 2024. During the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas militants at the Tribe of Nova music festival, Binyamin, 29, raced into an air raid shelter, but attackers fired shots and then threw in grenades. He was seriously wounded; his right leg was blown off. He was left for dead. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

The soccer player of Israel Amputee Football Team, Ben Binyamin and his teammates prepare to run during a practice session in Ramat Gan, Thursday, April 11, 2024. Ben Binyamin was celebrating his 29th birthday at the Tribe of Nova music festival on Oct. 7 when Hamas militants stormed into southern Israel and opened fire on thousands of Israelis dancing to electronic music. Binyamin raced into an air raid shelter, but attackers fired shots and then threw in grenades. He was seriously wounded; his right leg was blown off. He was left for dead. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

The soccer player of Israel Amputee Football Team, Ben Binyamin and his teammates prepare to run during a practice session in Ramat Gan, Thursday, April 11, 2024. Ben Binyamin was celebrating his 29th birthday at the Tribe of Nova music festival on Oct. 7 when Hamas militants stormed into southern Israel and opened fire on thousands of Israelis dancing to electronic music. Binyamin raced into an air raid shelter, but attackers fired shots and then threw in grenades. He was seriously wounded; his right leg was blown off. He was left for dead. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

The soccer player of Israel Amputee Football Team, Ben Binyamin controls the ball during a practice session in Ramat Gan, Thursday, April 11, 2024. Ben Binyamin was celebrating his 29th birthday at the Tribe of Nova music festival on Oct. 7 when Hamas militants stormed into southern Israel and opened fire on thousands of Israelis dancing to electronic music. Binyamin raced into an air raid shelter, but attackers fired shots and then threw in grenades. He was seriously wounded; his right leg was blown off. He was left for dead. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

The soccer player of Israel Amputee Football Team, Ben Binyamin controls the ball during a practice session in Ramat Gan, Thursday, April 11, 2024. Ben Binyamin was celebrating his 29th birthday at the Tribe of Nova music festival on Oct. 7 when Hamas militants stormed into southern Israel and opened fire on thousands of Israelis dancing to electronic music. Binyamin raced into an air raid shelter, but attackers fired shots and then threw in grenades. He was seriously wounded; his right leg was blown off. He was left for dead. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Then Binyamin learned about a chance to be “normal” again: Israel's national amputee soccer team.

The team, which includes two Israeli soldiers who lost limbs fighting in the war with Hamas, has offered all three a chance to heal from life-altering wounds suffered during the Oct. 7 attacks and Israel’s ensuing war in Gaza. It heads to France in June for the European Amputee Football Championships. Some 16 teams, mostly from Europe, will compete.

“It’s the best thing in my life,” said 1st Sgt. Omer Glikstal of the team's twice-weekly practices at a stadium in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan. The 20-year-old soldier from Haifa regularly played soccer until his life was turned upside-down when a rocket-propelled grenade shattered his left foot during a battle in Gaza in November.

“It’s a very different game than I used to play, but in the end, it’s the same,” he said.

Dozens of Israelis lost limbs during the Hamas attacks that killed some 1,200 people in southern Israel and the war that followed. Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, home to a major rehabilitation center, says it alone has treated about 60 amputees.

Israel’s Defense Ministry says 1,573 soldiers have been wounded since Israel began its ground offensive in late October, in which troops have engaged in close combat with Hamas militants. The military did not have specific statistics on amputees but said some 320 soldiers were critically wounded.

The Israeli athletes and others who lost limbs have benefited from a world-class medical system that has decades of experience treating young people injured in wars and conflict.

In Gaza, unknown numbers of Palestinians have also lost limbs in a war that has claimed nearly 34,000 lives, according to Gaza health officials. Gaza’s health system has been overwhelmed by the war, and doctors and patients say they often need to choose between amputation or death. Before the war, Gaza also had a fledgling team of amputee soccer players wounded in previous conflicts with Israel.

Shaked Bitton, an Israeli army division commander, lost his right leg when he was shot by a Hamas sniper with a .50-caliber round — the type that can blast through concrete — near the Jabaliya refugee camp in late October. “I heard two shots. I fell down. I looked back,” the 21-year-old soldier said, “and I saw my leg.”

Bitton thought his life was over — he had never even met an amputee before — until he was visited in the hospital by others who had lost limbs and successfully resumed their lives.

Among them was Zach Shichrur, founder of Israel's national amputee soccer team. Severely injured when a bus ran over his foot at age 8, he knew what these men were going through, and he offered them hope.

“There is nothing greater than to go out and compete at the international level when you have the Israeli flag on your chest. Most of us, if not all, could not have even imagined something like this,” said Shichrur, 36, an attorney and the team's captain.

Since its founding five years ago, the Israeli team has met with growing success, placing third in the Nations League in Belgium in October. That qualified it to compete in the European championship in June.

Amputee soccer teams have six fielder players who are missing lower limbs; they play on crutches and without prosthetics. Each team has a goalkeeper with a missing upper extremity. The pitch is smaller than standard.

At team practices, the Israeli players are undeterred by the absence of an arm or a leg — whether from an accident, a war injury or a birth defect.

“We all have something in common. We’ve been through a lot of hard and difficult times. It unites us,” said Aviran Ohana, a cybersecurity expert whose right leg is shorter than his left due to a birth defect, and who has played with the team for two years.

On a recent April evening, the team started its warm-up with sprints around the pitch, the men speeding forward propelled by one leg, steadied by their crutches.

A game against able-bodied teenagers followed. Binyamin, dripping with sweat, kicked the ball with his left leg as the coach shouted from the sidelines: “Forward! Forward!” Every goal was celebrated.

Sir Ludwig Guttmann, a Jewish neurologist who fled Nazi Germany in 1939 and settled in Britain, is credited with pioneering competitive sports as a form of rehabilitation. Guttmann, who organized the first competition for wheelchair athletes on the opening day of the 1948 London Olympic Games, is considered the father of the Paralympic Games, and his legacy has enhanced the lives of thousands of handicapped athletes.

In Israel today, the amputee soccer team offers the players the excitement of competition — and the healing powers of sport, said Michal Nechama, the team’s physical therapist.

“They need it for their soul,” she said. “It gives them joy, pride. That extra thing that you can’t give in a hospital.”

Israel Amputee Football Team soccer players take part in a practice session with young players from a local team in Ramat Gan, Thursday, April 11, 2024. The team offers players the excitement of competition, an outlet for their energies and the healing powers of sport, of overcoming the mental and physical challenges of disability. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Israel Amputee Football Team soccer players take part in a practice session with young players from a local team in Ramat Gan, Thursday, April 11, 2024. The team offers players the excitement of competition, an outlet for their energies and the healing powers of sport, of overcoming the mental and physical challenges of disability. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

The soccer player of Israel Amputee Football Team, Ben Binyamin, right, stretches after a practice session in Ramat Gan, Thursday, April 11, 2024. The team offers players the excitement of competition, an outlet for their energies and the healing powers of sport, of overcoming the mental and physical challenges of disability. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

The soccer player of Israel Amputee Football Team, Ben Binyamin, right, stretches after a practice session in Ramat Gan, Thursday, April 11, 2024. The team offers players the excitement of competition, an outlet for their energies and the healing powers of sport, of overcoming the mental and physical challenges of disability. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Wearing a device that measures his energy consumption, the Israel Amputee Football Team player, Ben Maman, left, fights for the ball with a young soccer player from a local team during a practice session in Ramat Gan, Thursday, April 11, 2024. Amputee football stands out as a disability sport because the athletes aren't in wheelchairs. It is played with six outfield players who have lower extremity amputations and play with crutches and without prosthetics. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Wearing a device that measures his energy consumption, the Israel Amputee Football Team player, Ben Maman, left, fights for the ball with a young soccer player from a local team during a practice session in Ramat Gan, Thursday, April 11, 2024. Amputee football stands out as a disability sport because the athletes aren't in wheelchairs. It is played with six outfield players who have lower extremity amputations and play with crutches and without prosthetics. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Israel Amputee Football Team player Shaked Bitton, center, fights for the ball with a young soccer player from a local team during a practice session in Ramat Gan, Thursday, April 11, 2024. Bitton, 21, of Jerusalem said he was shot at night in Gaza, twice, by a sniper with a 0.50 caliber round, the type that can blast through concrete. "I heard two shots, I fell down, I looked back," he said, "and I saw my leg." (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Israel Amputee Football Team player Shaked Bitton, center, fights for the ball with a young soccer player from a local team during a practice session in Ramat Gan, Thursday, April 11, 2024. Bitton, 21, of Jerusalem said he was shot at night in Gaza, twice, by a sniper with a 0.50 caliber round, the type that can blast through concrete. "I heard two shots, I fell down, I looked back," he said, "and I saw my leg." (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

An Israel Amputee Football Team soccer player controls the ball during a practice session in Ramat Gan, Thursday, April 11, 2024. Amputee football stands out as a disability sport because the athletes aren't in wheelchairs. It is played with six outfield players who have lower extremity amputations and play with crutches and without prosthetics. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

An Israel Amputee Football Team soccer player controls the ball during a practice session in Ramat Gan, Thursday, April 11, 2024. Amputee football stands out as a disability sport because the athletes aren't in wheelchairs. It is played with six outfield players who have lower extremity amputations and play with crutches and without prosthetics. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Israel Amputee Football Team soccer player, left, Omer Gliksta kicks the ball as his teammate, the goalkeeper, Or Hershkovits, tries to block it during a practice session in Ramat Gan, Thursday, April 11, 2024. Glikstal, 20, of Haifa, was a dedicated athlete who played football regularly. But during a battle in Gaza in November against Hamas militants, he was struck in the left foot by a rocket-propelled grenade. Being on the amputee team has renewed him, mentally and physically. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Israel Amputee Football Team soccer player, left, Omer Gliksta kicks the ball as his teammate, the goalkeeper, Or Hershkovits, tries to block it during a practice session in Ramat Gan, Thursday, April 11, 2024. Glikstal, 20, of Haifa, was a dedicated athlete who played football regularly. But during a battle in Gaza in November against Hamas militants, he was struck in the left foot by a rocket-propelled grenade. Being on the amputee team has renewed him, mentally and physically. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

The coach of the Israel Amputee Football Team, Sharon Paz, center, gives instructions to his players during a practice session in Ramat Gan, Thursday, April 11, 2024. The team practices twice a week in the evening at a stadium in Ramat Gan. Altshuler Shaham Investment House is a financial sponsor of the team, but more sponsors are being sought to help defray the costs of competition and travel. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

The coach of the Israel Amputee Football Team, Sharon Paz, center, gives instructions to his players during a practice session in Ramat Gan, Thursday, April 11, 2024. The team practices twice a week in the evening at a stadium in Ramat Gan. Altshuler Shaham Investment House is a financial sponsor of the team, but more sponsors are being sought to help defray the costs of competition and travel. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Or Hershkovits, goalkeeper of Israel Amputee Football Team, right, is helped by a teammate to tie his soccer cleat before a practice session in Ramat Gan, Thursday, April 11, 2024. Amputee football stands out as a disability sport because the athletes aren't in wheelchairs. It is played with six outfield players who have lower extremity amputations and play with crutches and without prosthetics. Each team also has one goalkeeper, who has an upper extremity amputation. The pitch is roughly half the size of standard.(AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Or Hershkovits, goalkeeper of Israel Amputee Football Team, right, is helped by a teammate to tie his soccer cleat before a practice session in Ramat Gan, Thursday, April 11, 2024. Amputee football stands out as a disability sport because the athletes aren't in wheelchairs. It is played with six outfield players who have lower extremity amputations and play with crutches and without prosthetics. Each team also has one goalkeeper, who has an upper extremity amputation. The pitch is roughly half the size of standard.(AP Photo/Leo Correa)

The soccer player of Israel Amputee Football Team, Omer Glikstal, center, gets ready for a practice session in Ramat Gan, Thursday, April 11, 2024. The team practices two evenings a week at the stadium in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan, first with warm-ups and drills, then practice games - each man undeterred by the absence of an arm or a leg from an accident, a war injury or a birth defect. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

The soccer player of Israel Amputee Football Team, Omer Glikstal, center, gets ready for a practice session in Ramat Gan, Thursday, April 11, 2024. The team practices two evenings a week at the stadium in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan, first with warm-ups and drills, then practice games - each man undeterred by the absence of an arm or a leg from an accident, a war injury or a birth defect. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Israel Amputee Football Team players Shaked Bitton left, and Ben Binyamin wear their soccer cleats before a practice session in Ramat Gan, Thursday, April 11, 2024. The team practices two evenings a week at the stadium in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan, first with warm-ups and drills, then practice games - each man undeterred by the absence of an arm or a leg from an accident, a war injury or a birth defect. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Israel Amputee Football Team players Shaked Bitton left, and Ben Binyamin wear their soccer cleats before a practice session in Ramat Gan, Thursday, April 11, 2024. The team practices two evenings a week at the stadium in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan, first with warm-ups and drills, then practice games - each man undeterred by the absence of an arm or a leg from an accident, a war injury or a birth defect. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Israel Amputee Football Team player, Ben Binyamin, center, prepares to kick the ball during practice session in Ramat Gan, Thursday, April 11, 2024. During the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas militants at the Tribe of Nova music festival, Binyamin, 29, raced into an air raid shelter, but attackers fired shots and then threw in grenades. He was seriously wounded; his right leg was blown off. He was left for dead. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Israel Amputee Football Team player, Ben Binyamin, center, prepares to kick the ball during practice session in Ramat Gan, Thursday, April 11, 2024. During the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas militants at the Tribe of Nova music festival, Binyamin, 29, raced into an air raid shelter, but attackers fired shots and then threw in grenades. He was seriously wounded; his right leg was blown off. He was left for dead. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

The soccer player of Israel Amputee Football Team, Ben Binyamin and his teammates prepare to run during a practice session in Ramat Gan, Thursday, April 11, 2024. Ben Binyamin was celebrating his 29th birthday at the Tribe of Nova music festival on Oct. 7 when Hamas militants stormed into southern Israel and opened fire on thousands of Israelis dancing to electronic music. Binyamin raced into an air raid shelter, but attackers fired shots and then threw in grenades. He was seriously wounded; his right leg was blown off. He was left for dead. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

The soccer player of Israel Amputee Football Team, Ben Binyamin and his teammates prepare to run during a practice session in Ramat Gan, Thursday, April 11, 2024. Ben Binyamin was celebrating his 29th birthday at the Tribe of Nova music festival on Oct. 7 when Hamas militants stormed into southern Israel and opened fire on thousands of Israelis dancing to electronic music. Binyamin raced into an air raid shelter, but attackers fired shots and then threw in grenades. He was seriously wounded; his right leg was blown off. He was left for dead. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

The soccer player of Israel Amputee Football Team, Ben Binyamin controls the ball during a practice session in Ramat Gan, Thursday, April 11, 2024. Ben Binyamin was celebrating his 29th birthday at the Tribe of Nova music festival on Oct. 7 when Hamas militants stormed into southern Israel and opened fire on thousands of Israelis dancing to electronic music. Binyamin raced into an air raid shelter, but attackers fired shots and then threw in grenades. He was seriously wounded; his right leg was blown off. He was left for dead. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

The soccer player of Israel Amputee Football Team, Ben Binyamin controls the ball during a practice session in Ramat Gan, Thursday, April 11, 2024. Ben Binyamin was celebrating his 29th birthday at the Tribe of Nova music festival on Oct. 7 when Hamas militants stormed into southern Israel and opened fire on thousands of Israelis dancing to electronic music. Binyamin raced into an air raid shelter, but attackers fired shots and then threw in grenades. He was seriously wounded; his right leg was blown off. He was left for dead. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

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42% of Companies Ready to Adopt Digital ID, New Regula Study Shows

2024-05-21 15:02 Last Updated At:15:11

RESTON, Va.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--May 21, 2024--

As more countries adopt the concept of digital identity, regulators are keen to showcase their plans and successes. But what do businesses think about this shift? To find out, Regula, a global developer of forensic devices and identity verification (IDV) solutions, commissioned a study to survey companies across different regions and industries to get a sense of their readiness, concerns, and expectations for digital identities.

This press release features multimedia. View the full release here: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20240521226453/en/

Digital identity is considered to be a way to improve the efficiency and security of services, reduce fraud, and enhance access to public services, ensuring that they are delivered quickly and to the right people. A digital ID is an online representation of an individual, which contains personal information, credentials, and attributes used to establish and authenticate identity in digital spaces. As such, digital identity is already a well-recognized concept in different sectors.

Perception. According to the Forrester Consulting study “ The New Imperative: Digital IDs,” 81% of large and enterprise-level companies from the Aviation, Banking, Government, IT, and Telecom sectors have at least a basic awareness of this technology, with almost half possessing a thorough understanding. Moreover, some countries and sectors, primarily those with advanced digital infrastructures and regulatory frameworks, as well as high customer online interaction frequencies, have already made a leap towards its adoption.

Implementation. Currently, 42% of organizations worldwide are actively integrating digital ID technologies into their systems, and 31% are in the early stages of implementation. Another 17% of respondents are now developing a strategic plan to begin this transformation.

The United Arab Emirates shows higher integration rates, where the majority of businesses (54%) have already moved to active integration. At the same time, places with stricter regulations, such as the US and Europe, are taking a more cautious approach, with only 37% and 39% of companies respectively claiming to be at the integration stage.

“As the Forrester experts note in the study, the complexities and disparities of global implementation across various landscapes highlight the strategic necessity of adopting a hybrid approach to digital IDs. Moreover, there is no single, universally accepted set of global standards for digital IDs that applies across all countries and sectors. Therefore, the large number of companies at the stage of active implementation demonstrates a growing need for frameworks and guidelines that aim to foster interoperability, security, and privacy across different digital ID systems. The good news is that several international organizations and standards bodies — New Technology Working Group in the International Civil Aviation Organization, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), etc. — are working towards those standards. This seems to be a case in which slow and steady wins the race,” said Ihar Kliashchou, Chief Technology Officer at Regula.

More insights on the survey results will be revealed during an upcoming webinar with Regula and European Telecommunications Standards Institute experts. Register to join the live discussion!

Methodology:

In January 2024, Regula commissioned Forrester Consulting to conduct a survey with 226 manager-level and higher decision makers responsible for their organizations’ ID verification solutions. The respondents were primarily from Europe, North America and the Middle East, with at least 500 employees or more.

About Regula

Regula is a global developer of forensic devices and identity verification solutions. With our 30+ years of experience in forensic research and the largest library of document templates in the world, we create breakthrough technologies in document and biometric verification. Our hardware and software solutions allow over 1,000 organizations and 80 border control authorities globally to provide top-notch client service without compromising safety, security or speed.

Regula was repeatedly named a Representative Vendor in the Gartner® Market Guide for Identity Verification.

Learn more at www.regulaforensics.com.

Regula study shows, that the majority of companies around the world are fully aware of digital IDs. Moreover, there are organizations, that have already started integrating this technology in their IDV procedures. (Graphic: Business Wire)

Regula study shows, that the majority of companies around the world are fully aware of digital IDs. Moreover, there are organizations, that have already started integrating this technology in their IDV procedures. (Graphic: Business Wire)

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