“Dror was supposed to take his daughter Shaked with him. After giving it more thought, he decided not to take her. God must have instructed him to do so,” said a relative of Dror Hanin, the 37-year-old father of three from Beit Aryeh who succumbed to his wounds after being injured by Gaza mortar fire on the Erez Crossing on Tuesday evening.
Hanin was laid to rest earlier Wednesday in Yehud, with hundreds in attendance at the funeral service, among them President-elect Reuven Rivlin and Interior Minister Gideon Sa'ar. “We don’t want to imagine what would have happened had she went with him and witnessed the incident or God forbid suffered any injuries,” his relative added.
Hanin had arrived at the border crossing to hand out food and drinks to soldiers awaiting a possible ground invasion into the Strip. He was critically injured and evacuated to the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon, before succumbing to his wounds. The incident marks the first Israeli death since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge.
Dror is survived by his wife, Rachel, as well as three children, including 11-year-old Shaked, 5-year-old Yoav and 6-months old baby Abigail, who all gathered at the Hanin family home along with relatives and friends to mourn Dror’s death.
Hanin’s father in law, Shmuel Shaaltiel, mourned his death, saying: “Dror was a man of compassion. He couldn’t bear to see people in distress. He always helped, his home was open to everyone.
"Yesterday he loaded his car with packages for the soldiers, and since there wasn’t room for three of them, he asked us to give them to soldiers at the checkpoint on the way to Beit Aryeh.” Shaaltiel added that “Rachel and the children are crushed. It is impossible to comfort them.”
Rivlin also eulogized Hanin, saying that he died because of boundless love towards other Jews. “Rather than singing with this volunteer, we are coming to cover him….He saw himself as a soldier and said that he wants to take care of them, and because of his groundless love, Dror became a victim who died on the altar of the homeland.”
Interior Minister Gideon Sa'ar also paid his respects: “Dror was killed because he was Jewish, during a time of Kiddush Hashem. In his life and death, he symbolized all that is beautiful in our country: self-sacrifice, kindness and mutual responsibility.”.
Upon receiving the news of his death on Tuesday, Itzik Cohen, a childhood friend and neighbor, said Hanin was "full of humor and always ready to help, there are few people like him, always willing to help and to contribute. Unfortunately, he paid for his kind heart with his life."
The barrage on the border crossing occurred three hours after Israeli officially declared the unilateral ceasefire attempt had failed. The mortar fire was part of a larger rocket salvo launched around 7 pm, which included dozens of rockets fired on Gaza border communities, Negev towns, and the Tel Aviv metropolitan area.
Gilad Morag contributed to this report.