Soldiers killed in Lebanon mourned
Four soldiers killed on Lebanon border Thursday. Staff Sergeant Nadav Balua told his mother, 'I want to protect you'; Staff Sergeant Rafanel Muskal was popular among his friends, loved to play basketball, hiking. Company commander, Major Benjy Hillman, was married three weeks ago
The names of three of the casualties were cleared for publication Friday morning:
- Major Benjy Hillman, 27, of Raanana. His funeral will be held at 12:30 p.m. Friday at the Raanan cemetery.
- Staff Sergeant Rafanel Muskal, 21, of Mazkeret Batya. His funeral will be held at 2:30 p.m. Friday at the Mazkerey Batya cemetery.
- Staff Sergeant Nadav Balua, 21, of Carmiel. His funeral will be held at 2 p.m. Friday at the Carmiel cemetery.
Benjy Hillman – married three weeks ago
Major Benjy Hillam, 27, who was nicknamed "Ben" by his friends, planned his military career and served as a company commander in the Egoz unit. Only three weeks ago he married Ayala and moved to live with her in Maccabim-Reut.
One of his family friends said: "He was a man of great stature, he loved the army and planned a military career, 'salt of the earth.' There are not many people like him, this is an absolute disaster that something like this happens only three weeks after we all saw him so happy at his wedding."
Benjy Hillman left behind his parents, Danny and Judie, two brothers and a wife.
Nadav Balua – wanted to protect his home
The home of soldier Nadav Balua, 21, in Carmiel was filled with mourning Friday since family members received the bitter news on his death in a battle against terrorists in the Avivim area. Nadav celebrated his 21st birthday two weeks ago, and his parents went to visit him at his base, after he had not been home for three weeks.
His aunt, Irit Ben Hamo, said in tear that Nadav (Nadi, as his family members called him) insisted on joining a top quality commando unit, rather than being a simple soldier.
"He was not one of those who evade their duties. He said he wanted to defend his home. He told his mother 'I will defend you.' The mother objected because she didn’t want him to be far away from her, but one bright day he told her, 'mother, I have been accepted to the commando unit.' She called me that day and told me she has a bad feeling about the future."
Casualties evacuated (Photo: Reuters)
The aunt said that Nadav was a kind-hearted person.
"He was a man, always lent a hand first. Our Nadav is coming home today for the last time in a coffin. He is a soul, a flower. He is a child picked in his youth," she said.
Shosh Stirol, a neighbor of the Balua family, also described Nadav as a kind-hearted, calm, suppressed and modest person.
"Every mother would want such a child, every woman would want such a groom. He insisted on going to the combat unit and would come home with blood on his legs. His mother would tell him, 'you are too gentle for such a combat unit,' but he would dip his feet in iodine and return to the unit on weekends," she said.
IDF representatives arrived at the Balua family home at around 4 a.m.
"Tami called me at four in the morning to tell me that a disaster happened and that she needs me," the neighbor said. "I came, hugged and kissed her, that's all I can do. I have no magic, I can't bring back her loss."
Nadav, who was his parents' firstborn, left behind his parents, Tami and Elipaz, and three siblings: Neta, an IDF soldier, 16-year-old Yotam and eight-year-old Roee.
Three Carmiel residents have been killed since the fighting in the north began. First Sergeant Dov Sternshus, 37, was killed last weekend when a missile hit a Navy missile boat off the shores of Lebanon. Asa'el Damti, 39, was killed in Sunday's rocket attack on A Haifa train depot.
Rafanel Muskal – loved Israel
Staff Sergeant Refanel Muskal (Fani), 21, from Mazkeret Batya, studied at the religious high school "Amit" in Rehovot. He played basketball in the local Mazkeret Batya team, and before he was inducted to the army he studied for a year at the military preparatory program in the Golan Height's Keshet community.
Offering condolences (Photo: Ofer Amram)
Rafanel was scheduled to be released from the army on August 2007. His high school friends said that he loved the country, loved to hike and made many friends throughout the years.
He left behind his parents, Moshe and Riva, two older sisters and a younger brother.
Ahiya Raved, Moran Zelikovich and Meital Yasur-BeitOr contributed to the report