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Eight troops from Golani's 51st Battalion lost their lives on Wednesday during heavy fighting with Hizbullah operatives in the southern Lebanese village of Bint Jbail. Another officer was killed in a clash at Maron a-Ras.
Maj. Roi Klein
Ro', 31, from Eli, was the deputy commander of Golani's 51st battalion. Ro'i was about to celebrate his 31st birthday. He began his army service in the brigade's elite "Egoz" unit, and then advanced to the post of company commander.
He was scheduled to be promoted to battalion commander. Ro'i led his soldiers into the battle at Bint Jbail on Wednesday. He was caught in the ambush and killed in the heavy firefight with Hizbullah.
Roi's served in special units of both the Paratroop and Golani brigades. He took part in another IDF offensive in Bint Jbail six years ago.
His friends remember him as a quiet and modest man who strove for excellence in everything he did. In addition to his career as an army officer, Roi studied Torah at a beit midrash.
Ro'i would have been 31 years old on Thursday. He is survived by a wife and two young children.
Cpl. Ohad Klausner
Ohad, 20, from Beit Horon, called his parents last Sunday and told them he was going into Lebanon. The family tried to reach Ohad by telephone after they heard about Wednesday's hard-fought battle in Bint Jbail, but got no answer. IDF representatives arrived with the tragic news that evening.
"Already last night I felt something bad was happening," Ohad's mother said Wednesday. "The last time Ohad was home was two weeks ago. This Sunday he told us he was going into Lebanon."
Ohad's uncle described the tense hours before the IDF sent the news of his fate: "We tried all day to reach him, called his friends, the hospitals - they told us there was nothing and he wasn't on the lists. Then they told us the wounded were from the 51st Golani battalion and this really worried us."
Ohad is survived by his parents, a sister and a brother.
Lt. Alex Schwarzman
Alex, 23, from Acre, had already registered for studies at Haifa University. "Alex always took care of his mother and grandmother," friends said Wednesday.
Alex immigrated to Israel with his mother at the age of eight from Ukraine. Friends said he was dedicated to his family and did everything possible to take care of his mother and grandmother.
A deputy company commander, Alex loved the army and planned to continue serving as a career officer.
Alex is survived by his mother and sister.
Lt. Amihai Merhavia
Amihai, 24, from Eli, was the Golani platoon commander. On Wednesday morning Amihai's father, Moshe Merhavia, was still on reserve duty. When he returned home, he learned that his son was among the soldiers killed in the battle with Hizbullah. Amihai wanted to serve in battalion 51 in order to follow in the footsteps of his friend, Shmuel Weiss, who was killed in Jenin during Operation Defensive Shield.
Moshe told Army Radio Thursday morning: "We were lucky to have such a wonderful son. He had a good heart. He was a fighter, a dreamer, and a believer - and a lover of Eretz Yisrael. Amihai knew very well what he was fighting for. He knew who the enemy was and he was never confused about this. This is what he taught his soldiers, whom he loved."
Amihai's father, Moshe, received the news of his son's death while on reserve duty, after being called up because of the situation in Lebanon. He said he took comfort in the fact that his son had accomplished so much in his 24 years.
Amihai enlisted in the army after a good friend was killed in Jenin during Operation Defensive Shield in 2002. He was suspended from service for his involvement in a letter army officers wrote to the chief of staff that expressed support for soldiers who refused to take part in the evacuation of Gaza. Amihai was transferred to Lebanon from Gaza, where he was serving in the army's current operation.
Amihai is survived by his parents and nine brothers.
St.-Sgt. Shimon Dahan
Shimon, 20, from Ashdod, told his mother on Monday that he was going into Lebanon. "He was crazy about the army," Shimon's friends said Wednesday. "He even had laser surgery done on his eyes before he was drafted so he could serve in a combat unit."
I talked to him on Saturday and I had a bad feeling that something was going to happen," Shimon's mother, Yafa Dahan, said.
Shimon's older brother Meir, who also served in the Golani Brigade, was called up for reserve duty around the same time that Shimon went into Lebanon. On Wednesday, Meir heard the news of his brother's death and returned home from his unit.
A relative said he spoke to Shimon for the last time on Sunday. "He told me, 'send my regards to everyone, I love them.'"
Shimon is survived by his parents and four brothers.
Cpl. Asaf Namer
Assaf, 27, from Kiryat Yam was born in Israel and moved to Australia with his mother at the age of 10. Two and a half years ago he returned to Israel to fulfill his dream of serving as a combat soldier in the Israeli army.
On Wednesday the mayor of Kiryat Ata, Yaakov Peretz, who knew Asaf personally, visited the family at their home.
Asaf had a month left to finish his two-year army service.
He is survived by his parents and a sister.
St.-Sgt. Idan Cohen
Idan, 21, from Jaffa, told only his father that he was in Lebanon. "He didn't want his mother to worry," his friends said Wednesday. "He was supposed to finish his service in two months and go on a trip to South America."
Idan is survived by his parents and two sisters.
Sgt. Shimon Adega
Shimon, 20, from Kiryat Gat, was assigned to non-combat service because of medical problems. But he refused to give up on his dream and insisted on serving in the Golani brigade. "He was drafted as a 'jobnik' (non-combat soldier), but his dream was to be a fighter. In the end he got what he wanted," Shimon's brother Gil said.
Shimon is survived by his parents, five brothers and two sisters.
Lt. Yiftach Schreier
Yiftach, 21, from Haifa was a Paratrooper officer. He was killed Wednesday outside the village Maroun a-Ras.
Sources: Army Radio, Israel Radio, NRG Maariv
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