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July 22, 2018 6:30 pm

IDF Soldier Killed on Gaza Border Laid to Rest; Father: ‘He Would Have Achieved Greatness’

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

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Israeli soldier Aviv Levi, who was killed June 20, 2018 by a Palestinian sniper on the Gaza border. Photo: IDF.

Israeli Defense Forces soldier Aviv Levi, who was killed near the Gaza border on Friday by a Hamas sniper, was laid to rest in a military cemetery on Sunday, accompanied by hundreds of mourners.

“He would have achieved greatness,” Levi’s father Yaakov told the Hebrew news site Walla.

“He loved the state and he loved to contribute,” Yaakov said of his oldest son. “He wasn’t afraid of any challenge the army gave him.”

Yaakov described Aviv’s last conversation with his mother, saying, “On Friday, they spoke around 12 in the afternoon. He was tired, exhausted. She felt it. He told her he was in the field from morning until night, that it wasn’t easy for them. There was a difficult feeling in the conversation, but we didn’t feel that something so bad was going to happen.”

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Aviv, Yaakov added, was an outstanding soldier: “His performance was beyond the usual, and they preferred him over other officers in the field because he was extremely responsible.”

Yaakov recounted the traumatic moment he heard of his son’s death while the family was vacationing in Italy, saying, “An officer in charge of casualties called us, and we just went crazy. About a half hour later, the security officer from El Al arrived at the hotel. They helped us. The team accompanied us, played with our youngest four-year-old son and his 14-year-old sister. The military attache helped after that. It was a bad situation, we wouldn’t have survived without everyone’s help.”

“My son was amazing,” Yaakov added. “He never ducked any responsibility and this was what led him to his death. It’s a great loss. He was a good boy, outstanding, and he would have achieved greatness. Everything he touched and did was so successful. He worried about everyone like a guard. Every time he came back from the army, his mother would make everything ready and buy him everything. His room was like the room of a prince. When he would return she would hug him and never leave.”

Aviv’s 19-year-old brother Orian echoed his father’s sentiments, saying, “My brother was my role model, we always walked in his ways. I was supposed to visit him on Shabbat but I didn’t make it, he was taken from me before then. In our last conversation he laughed with me, said everything was fine, he didn’t say anything about the operation. He said everything was quiet. It could be that he wanted to relax us.”

Orian recounted his last meeting with Aviv two weeks before his death, saying, “We saw each other two Shabbats ago. We immediately gave each other a loving hug. Afterwards we went to grandma’s and ate lunch. We played X-Box, talked about life, we were very close, we shared everything. After his release from the army, he wanted to fly to South America. … He had plans to open a business, he was interested in the stock market. What I loved the most about him was his smile, and also the vein that stood out on his forehead when he was annoyed, and he would get annoyed with me a lot, and afterwards we always made up. I miss him so much.”

Aviv’s death sparked a major Israeli retaliatory strike, hitting over 60 Hamas targets. The terror group quickly declared a unilateral ceasefire, and the border has been tense but relatively quiet since then.

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