When officers reached the home of Sergeant Itamar Tsur, 19, of Beer Tuvia, who was killed in the Lebanese village of Rajmin from a direct hit by an anti-tank missile, they only found his 15 year-old brother. They asked him his name and then told him the bitter news: "Your big brother fell in battle, and won't come home."
Sergeant Andrei Brudner (18), of Rishon Letzion was also killed, as well as Sergeant Alon Fintuch, 19, of Kiryat Yam.
Itamar, 19, visited his home only three days ago for a short rest before entering Lebanon. His father, Yoav, himself a major (reserves) in the Armored Corps, said that despite usually not hugging Itamar, he gave him a strong hug that day, and asked him to take care of himself.
"My son died a hero's death. I'm proud we raised him to stand firm in battles for Israel," he told Ynet. "He set out for the battle knowing the worst of call can happen to him, we educated him for that and that's what happened. I had a feeling it would happen. In a phone conversation I told Itamar that the first day of fighting in enemy territory is the hardest, because you never know who is against who, everything is crowded and difficult. As a tank officer I can say that everything was expected. The enemy is not asleep, but we fell asleep. But I will tell the government, don't do anything fast. Everything slowly, slowly, and according to the program. Don't sway from anything and be strong."
'There's no option'
"I was alone when the officers knocked on the door," said Barak, 15, with teary eyes, Itamar's brother.
"They asked me if I am Barak Tsur, and I said I was, and then they simply told me by brother was killed in Lebanon. I didn't know what to do. The memories I had of Itamar just flashed through my mind, my brother who I loved so much, who always asked if everything was alright with me. Only I forgot to ask if everything with him was alright."
Barak said his big brother would take him for long conversations, and asked him to guard the home. The Tsur family owns a thriving dairy barn, and the father works with milk marketing companies across the country. Itamar planned to continue his father's work in the barn, and began the work before being drafted.
"There's no option," said Barak. "I will have to continue what Itamar dreamed of. I will really miss him."
IDF representatives found Itamar's mother, Sofi, at the place of her work as treasurer of the Beer Tuvia council. Family members said she was glued to the TV screen, and refused to explain why. When she received the message, she said: "Now you understand why I was glued to the screen."
Itamar left behind a sister, Sivan, and a girlfriend, Joan Feldmen, from Moshav Kfar Ahim.