The IDF announced Friday that NCO Master Sgt. (res.) Yair Ashkenazy, a 36-year-old soldier from Rehovot serving in the reserves brigade of the Bahad 1 officer training base, was killed in battle early Friday morning in the north Gaza Strip.
Ashkenazy's funeral was held the same day at the Rehovot Military Cemetery.
“How did you leave me in the middle of our life,” cried his wife, Moriah, “I cannot believe I’m standing here Yair.”
Ashkenazi left behind a wife and three children: Yoel, Amir, and Ya’ara – who is four-months-old.
Moriah spoke of how her husband used to call her “Lioness.”
She promised him she would take care of the children.
“This can’t be the end, I can’t believe it happened, that you will not return to me. Just four months ago our daughter was born. You were the happiest of men. You told me: ‘Mori, I’m so happy, I just want it to continue this way, that nothing will change. Most important is to see the children happy.’ “God takes the good ones. Yair, light of my eyes, the crown on my head. If there is any comfort, it is that you died a holy death in service of your country,” she said.
Ashkenazy’s wife spoke of her fears since he had been called to the reserves: “A week ago we said goodbye, you hugged us. I was not relaxed. Something made me feel that this will be the last hug. I couldn’t kiss you thinking about it. You left us incomplete. Next month we were supposed to celebrate 10 years together.”
The widower turned to the soldiers with a message: “Do not despair. This is what he wanted. I’m sure he’s proud of himself, I’m proud of him, do not despair. Do not let any mood or funeral overthrow you. Give all your strength. With all the pain, I’m sure Yair would be proud of you and us. The future of the county depends on you.”
Maj. Avi Bokubeza, who served with Ashkenazi in the reserves, also spoke at the funeral.
Addressing his speech to Avi, he said: “to be a squad leader for so many years is a complex role. Your soldiers were your friends. And yet you knew how conduct yourself in a professional, substantive way while demonstrating a quiet yet evident leadership – In a way that characterized you as a commander, and a man in general.”