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April 21, 2015 9:48 pm

In First Memorial Day Since Protective Edge, Israel Remembers Most Recent Fallen Soldier Heroes

avatar by David Daoud

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As Israelis ready to commemorate Memorial Day, they share their experiences over the soldiers who fell in last summer's war. PHOTO: Wikipedia.

Israel has begun the observance of its annual Memorial Day commemoration for its fallen soldiers, security personnel and victims of terror. For Israelis, last summer’s war in Gaza added the names of new soldiers to the list of its fallen heroes.

This Thursday, Guy Boyland was supposed to celebrate his 22nd birthday, most likely with his good friends from Kibbutz Ginosar, at a local pub, cheering the day over a round of beers. However, Boyland, who was a combat engineer, fell at the hands of Hamas terrorists last July, and his friends deeply feel the loss. “Since Guy was killed, it has been very quiet for us,” they said.

But his friends and family will still hold a commemoration for their hero. On July 16, 10 days before the anniversary of his death, they will be holding an extraordinary memorial service for him, called “Bringing back the noise.” The event is expected to be attended by a few thousand of the kibbutz residents, and will honor Guy with a “large and noisy celebration, in Guy’s spirit,” his cousin, Erez Ruso, told Israel’s Walla news.

Moshe Malko, also a combat engineer in the Golani Brigade, fell in battle in last summer’s war, at the age of 20. He was killed as IDF soldiers battled through the Shujai’iya neighborhood, which Hamas had turned into a stronghold. He was killed while protecting a Namer APC sent to the area to extract fallen and wounded soldiers.

Moshe’s sister, Esther, was the first to find out about her brother’s death, when officers knocked on her family’s door to deliver the tragic news. “I told them that my parents won’t be able to digest it, I went back to the room, and they saw my face and immediately knew something terrible had happened.”

Esther also had to deliver the horrific news to their younger sisters, telling them, “you know that Moshe was a soldier. Now he became an angel who is guarding us from above.” After that, Esther said, everything – the funeral, shiva and condolences – went very quickly.

Moshe’s friends recalled him to Israel’s Channel 2 news as a humble man, who was always smiling, and was always ready to help others, always volunteering himself, and as a professional soldier. There was no lack of stories of Moshe bringing his fellow soldiers full plates of food during long nights of guard duty, or helping his fellow soldiers carry heavy loads.

His selflessness was not limited to his military life, and he emphasized carrying these values into his personal life, always striving to help others without asking anything in return.

Staff Sergeant Shachar Shelo was the last soldier to be killed in Operation Protective Edge, and his father, Shimon Shelo, said, “I don’t know how this Yom HaZikaron is going to be.” He said that, “every year I attend as a security guard, volunteering with the police in the central event in Gamla, but this year I’m going to be there in a completely different capacity.”

His parents recalled that in the days before his death, Shachar was constantly in contact with his family. “We spoke to him many times, and he sent a message saying, ‘See you again. I love you.'”  It was one of the last communications they received from their son, they told Walla.

Shachar’s father said that the loss of his son sharpened the perception he had that while for those who have not suffered such a loss, Memorial Day is a day to honor those who have fallen, but for those who have lost a loved one – it’s always Memorial Day. “It’s true that it’s not constantly influencing our lives every given moment – but it’s always in the background.”

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