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February 22, 2016 11:08 pm

Widow of Slain Soldier: ‘He Had No Weapon; He Defended Us With His Body’ (VIDEO)

avatar by Ruthie Blum

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Yael and Yanai Weissman, with their four-month-old daughter, Neta. Photo: IDF.

Yael and Yanai Weissman, with their four-month-old daughter, Neta. Photo: IDF Spokesman.

Yael Weissman, the widow of 21-year-old IDF St.-Sgt. Tuvia Yanai Weissman, spoke to Israel National News on Monday about her husband, who was killed Thursday as he tried to prevent two Palestinian teenagers on a stabbing spree at a supermarket in the West Bank, not far from the couple’s home in the settlement, Ma’ale Mikhmas.

Yanai, as he was called by friends – who held dual US-Israeli citizenship — was off duty at the time of the incident, and he therefore was not carrying a weapon.

He was buried on Friday at Jerusalem’s Mt. Herzl military cemetery.

Yael described her relationship with her childhood sweetheart and the father of her four-month-old daughter, bemoaning the fact that he, who had insisted that fear of terrorism should not keep Israelis from going about their daily routines, was unarmed at the time of the attack in which he was critically wounded, dying later at the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem.

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The following is an English transcript of her interview:

First of all, he was my best friend I ever had, for as long as I can remember. We’ve always been good friends. Since the ninth grade, we spent our youth together and grew up together. In my eyes, he was someone so strong, who always put others before him. He was generous through and through. He showered me with so much love and affection right from the start, even at such a young age. I always knew I could trust him, no matter what. And even now, I hear people talk about how they miss him. And how he always knew the right words to say in every situation. Just his presence and the look in his eyes was enough to encourage everyone around him. And even with all his seriousness, he knew how to be silly and to make others happy.

The country was always so important to him. He always knew he was meant to work in security and to help others.

There’s so much more I can say.

Right now, I only have the strength to move forward because of our little girl, Neta. Ever since I left the hospital, I made myself a promise that even though I am a widow, I am first and foremost a mother. And even Yanai always said to me, ‘Neta is Number One.’ Before I even think about anything, I should think about what is best for her. ‘Don’t pay attention to what other people say. Don’t think about me; don’t think about you. Always think about what is best for her.’

And I know now he would not want anyone else to take care of her, even with the little things, like bathing her. And that I am the one who will continue with her daily routine. And it’s because of Neta that I have the strength to wake up in the morning and get out of bed and continue. If it wasn’t for her, I would not have the power like I do now.

No terror can defeat this family, and I don’t think terror will prevail over the people of Israel – over who we are. I don’t think Yanai would want this to break us. It’s funny to think that in the end, it did reach us, because he always said to me we will continue with our routine. We go shopping? We go shopping together. You should never be afraid to leave the house. We go to town? We go together. We should not be afraid to go out with Neta on walks or drive with her on the roads. We are in this country, and we can’t lock ourselves in our homes. That’s not a life worth living.

Yanai felt as though something was missing. As if he was missing a hand. He was very frustrated that he had to go on regular leave without his weapon and did not feel complete without a weapon every time he left the house. He always said, ‘I feel stupid that I did not insist; that I did not take out a gun permit.’

I think that if a soldier requests to take his weapon with him on leave, he should at least be allowed to protect himself and others. After all, the soldiers protect us. And Yanai was there to protect us. He defended us with himself, with his body. I don’t want to think about ‘what if’ situations, but I know that this bothered him.

Watch the video of Yael’s interview here:

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