'We can't go on living without him': Slain soldier laid to rest

Aviv Levi, a soldier in the Givati Brigade, was taking part in the IDF operations on the Gaza border when he was critically wounded.

St.-Sgt. Aviv Levi funeral, July 22, 2018 (photo credit: ALON HACHMON)
St.-Sgt. Aviv Levi funeral, July 22, 2018
(photo credit: ALON HACHMON)
St.-Sgt. Aviv Levi, a 20-year-old soldier from Petah Tikva who was killed Friday by a Hamas sniper on the Gaza border, was accompanied by hundreds of friends and family as he was laid to rest on Sunday in the military section of the city’s Segula cemetery.
A soldier in the Givati Brigade, Levi was taking part in the IDF operations on the Gaza Strip border when he was critically wounded. He was evacuated by helicopter to hospital, where his death was confirmed.
Levi is the first IDF soldier killed on the Gaza border since Operation Protective Edge in 2014. He leaves behind his parents, Yaakov and Peri, and three siblings. His parents and two of his siblings, 15-year-old Noy and four-yearold Dan, were in Italy at the time of the incident and returned to Israel immediately after receiving the news.
Levi was due to celebrate his 21st birthday in two weeks. He studied at the Golda Secondary School in the city’s Em Hamoshavot neighborhood.
“He was the apple of our eye and his mother’s pride and joy; she couldn’t stand being away from him for a minute,” said his father Yaakov. “He was an admired older brother to Oren and Noy, and a second father to Dan.”
“They chose you for a mission that ended your life. You were concerned for everyone, and you excelled in everything you did. You were our source of light, our joy and our pride. We are not saying goodbye. We will stay with you forever. It is unnatural to lose a child. You were our son, you became a man and were the salt of the earth. You paid a high price because you excelled. You will be with us forever,” Levi’s father said.
“My brother the hero, I can’t believe that I have to write these words. You always took care of everyone,” said his sister Noy.
“My dear brother, we already miss you so much. You loved everybody. You contributed to the state and to the family. You are a model for everyone, especially me,” said his brother Oren.
“You were a friend, like a brother,” Idan, one of Levi’s close friends, said through tears. “You left a hole in our hearts. You were a beloved source of inspiration, and you left a tremendous loss. It’s impossible to understand, and my heart can’t stop racing. Rest in peace.”
“You were my oldest nephew and a model for inspiration,” said Levi’s godfather, his uncle Noam. “Your father would speak about you with pride. The love of our hearts, how can we continue living without you? We will pray to God to grant your parents the strength to continue. Your grandfather, for whom you were named, was killed when scaffolding fell on him when he insisted on going to pay a worker on the first night of Hanuka. You were killed on Tisha Be’av when you chose to serve on a mission when you did not have to. How symbolic is it that you were taken from us on this day. For your grandfather we built a synagogue; for you we will build a tradition.”
“He was a brave fighter,” the commander of Levi’s unit told his father. “An officer and a friend who knew how to complete with complete responsibility any mission that was given him. You lost a beloved and precious son. And today you have officially joined the family of the brigade, and we will remain with you, supporting and embracing, on this long journey.”
“Petah Tikva in its entirely bows its head at the loss of this hero, one of our beloved sons,” said the city’s mayor, Itzik Braverman. “Yesterday when they opened the gates of the Golda High School where he studied, and the masses that had gathered there, I learned first hand how loved and respected he was. Truly a model.”