Israeli citizen killed fighting in Donetsk, buried in hometown of Lviv

Dmytro Pialka, who was 39 years old at the time of his death, immigrated to Israel at the age of 15. He fell in battle in September.

 A man holds the national flag during a funeral ceremony for the member of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Valerii, who was killed during Russia's invasion of Ukraine, during a funeral ceremony in Kyiv, Ukraine, March 8, 2022.  (photo credit: REUTERS/VALENTYN OGIRENKO)
A man holds the national flag during a funeral ceremony for the member of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Valerii, who was killed during Russia's invasion of Ukraine, during a funeral ceremony in Kyiv, Ukraine, March 8, 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS/VALENTYN OGIRENKO)

An Israeli citizen from Lviv, Ukraine was buried in his hometown this weekend after being killed in battle during the war against Russian forces in the Donetsk region of Eastern Ukraine.

Dmytro Pialka, who was 39 years old at the time of his death, immigrated to Israel at the age of 15. He served in the IDF and was a soccer coach for Maccabi Beer Sheba’s urban youth team. He returned to Lviv and worked as a soccer coach in 2015 before taking up arms to defend Ukraine amid the Ukraine-Russia War.

He fell in battle at the beginning of September. The Federation of Jewish Communities of Ukraine (FJCU) worked behind the scenes to reach his body, together with senior government officials in Kyiv. His body was eventually returned to the Ukrainians as part of a prisoner exchange deal in early October.

Pialka’s ties in Israel

Pialka has a mother and a younger brother who currently reside in Israel. His family wanted his body to be returned to Israel for burial, but it was Pialka’s wife’s wish that the body remained in Lviv for burial. 

Smoke rises over the city after Russian missile strikes, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Lviv, Ukraine, October 10, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/PAVLO PALAMARCHUK)Smoke rises over the city after Russian missile strikes, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Lviv, Ukraine, October 10, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/PAVLO PALAMARCHUK)

The funeral, which was held with the participation of the city's Rabbi Shlomo Bled, was attended by hundreds of people, including his family members, close friends and members of the Lviv Jewish community.

"We are happy that at least Dmytro Pialka was given an Israeli grave."

-FJCU statement

"Roughly 100 Jews have been killed in the war so far, including soldiers who fought on the front and also civilians who lost their lives in the Russian bombings,” the FJCU said in a statement, “Unfortunately, despite our attempts, we are unable to reach everybody and bring it to the Israeli grave. Some of the bodies were buried in public parks and in mass graves. We are happy that at least Dmytro Pialka was given an Israeli grave. May his memory be blessed," the statement concluded.