Yotam, 33, the eldest son to Batya and Amir, grew up in the kibbutz, where he loved to sing and play music; he was called up for reserve duty just a few days ago, and was killed by an anti-tank missile in the south Lebanese village of Bint Jbeil.
Relatives Smadar and Amit Hameiri, who arrived at the family home upon hearing of Yotam’s death, said that following his release from compulsory service Yotam worked and later traveled to the Far East and New Zealand. When he returned to the kibbutz he began working as a children’s councilor.
'Didn’t even have time to say goodbye.' Yotam Lotan (Reproduction photo: Hagai Aharon)
He received the call-up letter from the army last Friday upon his return from a trip to Turkey.
“He was an admired councilor; one that everyone loved to love,” his cousin Amit said. “I spoke with him yesterday (Sunday) after what happened in Kfar Giladi, and he said he had not entered Lebanon yet. I asked him if he was scared and he said he was afraid of anti-tank missile fire.”
Smadar: “Yotam didn’t even have time to say goodbye to his family. He just packed his duffle bag and left. He was such a strong person; I wasn’t worried about him at all, I simply trusted him.
“I can’t believe he’s gone; he was the driving force in everything; he organized all of the kibbutz’s ceremonies, he was a talented musician, always willing to help; this may all sound like a cliché –but it was true of Yotam,” she said.
On Saturday night Yotam’s mother Batya was updated on her son’s whereabouts by former MK Mussa Peled, a kibbutz resident. He told her that Yotam had entered Lebanon but added “you have nothing to worry about because Yotam is with the best IDF unit.” On Monday at around noon IDF officers knocked on the door, and informed Batya of her son’s death.
“We don’t know who will sing and play for us now that Yotam is gone,” another relative said.
Yotam is survived by his parents and two siblings - Ofir and Rotem.