Yom Hazikaron 5779: Sixteen more reasons to grieve

The four Israelis killed on May 5 in Hamas and Islamic Jihad’s massive rocket barrage and guided anti-tank missile attack increased to 16 the number to be added this year to Israel’s list of over 23,000 fallen to be commemorated for Yom Hazikaron (“Memorial Day for the Fallen Soldiers of Israel and Victims of Terrorism”).

The solemn day begins this evening with a moment of silence and ceremonies and continues through the day tomorrow in Israel and around the world, including here in Australia, leading up to Israel’s Independence Day celebrations tomorrow night.

This year’s fallen were mothers, fathers, sons and daughters, Jews and Arabs, soldiers, civilians and heroic bystanders, each leaving behind a huge void of grief, sorrow and bittersweet memories.

As Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin told the grieving family of Hamas rocket victim Ziad Alhamada only yesterday, May 6:

“We, the tribes of Israel, are together in good times and bad, in hope and in difficulty, regardless of which tribe we are from. Ultra-Orthodox, secular, religious and traditional, Jews and Arabs – terror strikes us all without discrimination and without mercy, and we will never surrender to it. We are together in celebration and in consolation and I pray with all my might that you will know no more sorrow.”

Amen.

The following are the 16 Israelis who were killed in military action or in terror attacks since Yom Hazikaron last year:

Ronen Lubarsky

1. S. Sgt. Ronen Lubarsky

May 26, 2018

S. Sgt. Ronen Lubarsky, 20, from Rehovot, was a soldier from the elite Duvdevan army unit who was critically injured during an arrest raid in al-Am’ari refugee camp near Ramallah and succumbed to his wounds. The soldiers had been on a mission to arrest members of a terror cell who had been carrying out shooting attacks in the West Bank.

At his funeral at Jerusalem’s Mt. Herzl cemetery, Ronen’s cousin eulogised him as “a symbol of pure Israeli nature … You were the strongest of us all because you gave your all. You lived a life of self-sacrifice.”

Yotam Ovadia

2. Yotam Ovadia

July 26, 2018

Yotam Ovadia, 31, a father of two and resident of the West Bank settlement Adam near Jerusalem, was stabbed to death by a terrorist who infiltrated the settlement through the fence. The terrorist managed to injure two other passersby before he was shot and killed. Ovadia is survived by his wife and two sons, Harel – two months shy of this third birthday, and Itai, just seven months old.

Speaking at Ovadia’s funeral at the Sephardic cemetery in Jerusalem’s Givat Shaul, his father-in-law said: “Your little boy cannot do without you. All day he calls ‘Abba, Abba [Dad, Dad]’ It’s heart-breaking.”

Ari Fuld

3. Ari Fuld

September 16, 2018

Ari Fuld,45, a resident of the West Bank settlement of Efrat, was stabbed to death by a Palestinian teenager outside a shopping centre at the Gush Etzion junction. Despite his wounds, Fuld chased and shot at his attacker before collapsing to the ground.

His wife Miriam said at his funeral at Kfar Etzion cemetery: “You were a good man. I’m not sure how to go on without you. You were always running towards danger instead of away from it and you never backed down from a fight because you knew you were in the right.”

Ari was survived by his wife Miriam, and four children: Tamar, 22, Naomi, 21, Yakir, 17, and Natan, 12.

Kim Levengrond-Yehezkel

4. Kim Levengrond Yehezkel

October 7, 2018

Kim Levengrond Yehezkel, 28, mother of an 18-month-old child, was shot and killed at her workplace by a Palestinian co-worker in the Barkan Industrial Park in the Samaria region of the West Bank. A law student, Levongrad-Yehezkel worked as a secretary. The perpetrator entered her office, bound her and shot her.

Her husband Gai said at her funeral at the Rosh Haayin cemetery: “I want to promise you that we will never forget you. We will raise our Kai exactly the way that you wanted. You will always remain my best friend.”

Kim was survived by her husband Gai, her son, Kai, and her parents.

Ziv Hajbi

5. Ziv Hajbi

October 7, 2018

Ziv Hajbi, 35, of Rishon Letzion, a father of three, was also killed in the Barkan terror attack. Ziv worked as an accountant. The perpetrator, who worked in the same factory, entered his office and shot him from close range.

Hajbi’s wife, Natalie, wept as she addressed her deceased husband at his funeral, which was held in the southern agricultural community of Nir Yisrael.

“My darling, I can’t say watch over us from above because you are here,” she said. “Help me to raise the children. We’ve been together since we were 17 and half. Come back, I will love you forever.”

Ziv was survived by his wife, seven-year-old twins and a four-year-old son.

Mahmoud Abu Asba

6. Mahmoud Abu Asba

November 12, 2018

Mahmoud Abu Asba, 48, a Palestinian father of six from the village of Halhul, north of Hebron in the West Bank, was killed by a Hamas rocket in the Israeli city of Ashkelon.

Abu Asba, a Palestinian construction worker who held permits to work in Israel legally, was killed when the rocket hit the rental flat where he slept during the work week.

Mahmoud Abu Asba was survived by his wife and six children, four sons and two daughters.

We are four brothers and two sisters,” Mahmoud’s son told Ynet: “Three of the brothers are students. We are afraid to go pick up my four-year-old brother from kindergarten because he does not know yet that his father is coming home in a coffin. My mother doesn’t stop crying. Our lives are destroyed; we do not know how to deal with his death.”

Regarding the fighting between Israel and Hamas, the son added, “I hope that this war will stop. My father has Jewish friends and he was in good contact with everyone, we do not want others to go through what we’ve been through. It is very painful.”

7. Amiad Israel Ish-Ran

December 12, 2018

An unborn baby (30 weeks), named Amiad Israel before his burial, was delivered by emergency C-section after his mother was severely wounded in a drive-by shooting terror attack outside the West Bank settlement of Ofra. He died after spending several days in intensive care.

The unborn baby’s young parents, Shira and Amichai Ish-Ran, were among seven people injured as they stood at a bus stop and hitchhiking post on the major West Bank Route 60 artery, on the last night of the Hanukkah holiday.

Barely able to speak between sobs, the Times of Israel reported, grandfather Refael Ish-Ran said despite the baby boy’s short life, few people had “managed to unite the nation of Israel” like he had.

“You brought so much light. And with all the light that you brought, we will extinguish their darkness,” he said in his eulogy

Amiad Israel was laid to rest in Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives cemetery.

Yuval Mor Yoseph

8. S. Sgt. Yuval Mor Yosef 

December 13, 2018

Yuval Mor Yosef, 20, of Ashkelon, a combat soldier in the Kfir Brigade and a member of the Nahal Haredi unit of ultra-Orthodox soldiers, was killed in a terrorist attack in Givat Asaf in the West Bank, north of Jerusalem.

Yuval embraces sister Libat

Yuval was survived by his parents Moti and Ilanit, and sisters Morag, Meitar, and Libat.

His mother, Ilanit told the Israeli news portal Kan Darom that she called Yuval the night before the attack. “I asked, ‘When are you coming back home?’ He said ‘Unknown’, and it sounded strange to me because he always knew when he was coming back – he always came back for Shabbat. I told him to record a ‘good night’ message to [Yuval’s severely disabled sister] Libat, and he recorded it and I played it for her.” It was the last time she heard her son’s voice.

President Reuven Rivlin said at his shiva “We’ve come to cry over the passing of a protector of the walls of Israel. A real hero who knew how to preserve his identity and also to protect us, with the understanding that only we can preserve our home.”

Yoseph Cohen

9. S. Sgt. Yoseph Cohen

December 13, 2018

Yoseph Cohen, 19, of Beit Shemesh, a combat soldier in the Kfir Brigade and Nahal Haredi, was killed in the same attack at Givat Assaf that killed his fellow soldier Yuval Mor Yosef.

One of 11 children born into an ultra-Orthodox family in Bnei Brak, his father died five years ago. His step-father Eliyahu told the Israeli news portal Arutz 7 that two weeks before Yossi’s death, he was asked at the Sabbath table, as was the custom in the family, to share something that he was thankful for. Yossi said, “I thank God for giving me the opportunity to defend the people of Israel with my body.”

Eliyahu added “You see, there was a big debate during the establishment of the Haredi Nahal, within the Haredi community. But now everyone sees how Yossi’s [service and self-sactifice] was a huge Kiddush HaShem [Sanctification of God’s name]”.

Ori Ansbacher

10. Ori Ansbacher

February 7, 2019

Ori Ansbacher, 19, of Tekoa, was brutally assaulted and murdered by a Palestinian terrorist while walking in the Ein Yael forest southwest of Jerusalem. She was found with multiple stab wounds to her chest. Ansbacher was serving as a national service volunteer at the Ye’elim youth centre in Emek Refaim.

Ori’s parents, Rabbi Gadi and Noa Ansbacher, told reporters their daughter was “a holy soul seeking meaning, with a sensitivity for every person and creature and an infinite desire to correct the world with goodness.”

Noa said about Ori’s passion for writing: “You were the child of words, and I have no words left, only thank you. Thank you for the warm hugs, thank you for endless moments, conversations over a cup of coffee, sharing and listening. My beloved Ori, you were a girl of light (Hebrew: “Ohr”), you were a girl of nature and earth, and went out with a notebook to admire the environment and nature.

“You will not be able to travel, get married and give birth. You will not be able to fulfil the dreams that have been developing inside you. You could have given so much light to the world. We are returning you to the land that you loved. Thank you for 19 years of good and light. I ask that you go ascend to a world where everything is good – that will give us the strength to live and be happy. My ‘Orileh’, I say goodbye to you and I’ll miss you so much.”

Gal Keidan

11. S. Sgt. Gal Keidan

March 17, 2019

Gal Keidan, 19, of Be’er Sheva was stabbed and killed in a terror attack at Ariel Junction in the West Bank. Gal was a gifted musician, a graduate of the Beersheba Conservatory, where he played the mandocello with distinction.

“Gal was a child who always had a smile on his face,” Sharona Kapon, former deputy director of the conservatory, told Ynet. “He had a great joy for life and a kind heart which was evident in everything he did. He was an excellent student and devoted to music. He studied thoroughly every music piece he played and when he played it, you saw that he played it with love.”

Gal was the youngest son of two brothers. His parents had immigrated in the 1970s from the Soviet Union.

Rabbi Achiad Ettinger

12. Rabbi Achiad Ettinger

March 18, 2019

Rabbi Achiad Ettinger, 47, a father of 12 from the settlement of Eli, was fatally injured when he heroically attempted to use his car and pistol to neutralise the terrorist who had just killed IDF soldier Gal Keidan at Ariel Junction. He succumbed to his wounds the next day.

Ynet reported: “Ettinger, who ran the Oz and Emuna Yeshiva in the Neve Sha’anan neighbourhood of south Tel Aviv, is survived by his wife, 44-year-old Tamar, and their 12 children. Their daughter Moriah, 21, is married and lives in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City. She is due to have her first child in the coming weeks.

Efrat, his 20-year-old daughter, is volunteering in Tiberias for her national service and 19-year-old Eliashiv is in performing his army service in an elite unit. The other nine children are Harel, 18; Eliasaf, 16; Yehuda, 13; 11-year-old twin girls Techia and Sofia; Benia, 9; 7-year-old twins Eliav and Hadas; and 18-month-old girl Roni.

“Dad, how is it that you – who had brought so much life into the world – is no longer with us,” eulogized Efrat at his funeral in Petach Tikva. ‘The damned terrorist thought he was ending a life, but he didn’t know how much life you’ve left behind.’”

Moshe Agadi

13. Moshe Agadi

May 5, 2019

Moshe Agadi, 58, of Ashkelon, was killed when a rocket fired from Gaza hit his home. He was fatally struck by shrapnel in the chest and abdomen.

One of 14 children of a family that immigrated from Iran, Agadi was a greengrocer in the Ashkelon market. He is survived by his wife and four children.

Agadi’s nephew eulogized his uncle at the funeral, according to the Israeli news portal Walla. “They always say that God takes the righteous and the good, you think to yourself that it can’t be certain, but this time it really is.  You were a person who answered, smiled, all the time with a smile and a laugh that takes control of you and those around you enlightened you with your joy and you were modest, you kept commandments, even though you were murdered while praying. You said you were praying so that the soldiers would return home safely and quickly.”

Ziad Alhamada

14. Ziad Alhamada

May 5, 2019

Zaid al-Hamamdeh, a 49-year-old truck driver, was killed when a rocket from Gaza hit a factory in Ashkelon. At his funeral, which took place in the Beduin cemetery in Segev Shalom, his relatives told Ha’aretz that he used to come to work in Ashkelon every morning after morning prayers. “It was true that he was afraid when he heard and saw the missiles and sirens, but we did not think it would reach us,” they said.

“We lost a loved one. Ziad loved everyone, loved children and always liked to make them laugh,” his relatives eulogized him. “We do not want any Arab or Jewish children to be harmed by this escalation. “

“You don’t know what it means to me that you came here,” Ziad’s son reportedly told President Rivlin when he made a condolence call. “Why wouldn’t I come, you’re a citizen of Israel,” Rivlin replied.

Moshe Feder

15. Moshe Feder

May 5, 2019

Feder, 68, from Kfar Saba, was killed when his car was targeted by an anti-tank guided missile fired across the border by Hamas.

Feder worked for the Erez thermoplastics company, based at Kibbutz Erez near the Gaza border.

His neighbours told Ynet, “It’s amazing that he worked as he did at the age of 68, still on ladders and roofs… he talked about the life and grandchildren he loved, gave me the wisdom of his life and his love for grandchildren.

Moshe was survived by two children: Amit, 35, and Nimrod, 34, several grandchildren, as well as his wife Iris Eden, who herself had lost her first husband in the tragic IDF helicopter collision at Shear Yashuv 22 years ago.

Pinchas Menachem Prezuazman

16. Pinchas Menachem Prezuazman

May 5, 2019

Pinchas Menachem Prezuazman, 21, a dual Israeli-American citizen, was killed when he was running for cover from a Hamas rocket barrage on the city of Ashdod. He was a member of the Ger Hasidic haredi sect.

“I don’t understand why this is happening, but I am sure that you have fulfilled your purpose on this earth,” his father, Rabbi Haim Dov Prezuazman said as he was laid to rest. “I had a great blessing to raise you for 21, nearly 22 years.”

His death is the third tragedy to strike the family after his mother lost two brothers, one in the 2002 Palestinian terror attack on a bus at Meron and the other in an accident.

Pinchas left behind a wife and one-year-old child.