After arriving in Ramat Gan to offer condolences to the Ramon family on Sunday evening, IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi issued a statement over the death of IAF officer Assaf Ramon, who was killed in an F-16 crash in the Hebron Hills in the afternoon.
"With tears in my eyes, together with the IDF commanders and soldiers and with all of Israel, I received the terrible news of the death of Captain Assaf Ramon," Ashkenazi wrote.
"Only three months ago, I stood excitedly, hugging Rona while Assaf received his wings from the president as valedictorian of the [IAF pilots] course," the IDF chief wrote.
Ashkenazi went on to praise Assaf's father Ilan, the Israeli astronaut killed in the Columbia space shuttle disaster six years ago, and his mother, Rona.
"Captain Assaf followed in his father's footsteps, Col. Ilan Ramon z"l. Assaf walked down a road of values, norms and striving for excellence, paved by his father... Our hearts are now with this wonderful woman Rona, and with the entire family, embracing them with warmth and love," Ashkenazi wrote.
"This, tragically, is part of the price we pay for living in this beloved country," the IDF chief concluded.