"He made every effort to convince youths to enlist in the IDF in order to help the country. He told them that while his service was difficult, he had chosen to defend the country he lived in," recalled a cousin of the IDF tracker killed by a roadside bomb on the Gaza border on Thursday.
The slain soldier's family has asked that his name not be made public.
The tracker, 28, left behind two wives and seven children. He was buried in a non-military ceremony in a cemetery in Kseife.
Another cousin told Ynet that most of the Bedouin tracker's family had served in the IDF. "About a month ago, I saw him at home," the cousin told Ynet, "he said that he was very pleased with his service. Even though it was very difficult, he loved his job. I still can't believe that he's dead."
The tracker was killed after a powerful roadside bomb was detonated near a military jeep patrolling the border on the Israeli side of the security fence. Another serviceman, a combat soldier from the Givati Brigade, was gravely injured in the incident. He was evacuated to the Soroka hospital in Beer Sheva for treatment.
Dr. Gadi Shaked, director of the trauma unit at the hospital, told Ynet that the soldier remains in critical condition. "He's in intensive care and his wounds are life-threatening. Several doctors are fighting to save his life; he is mainly suffering from injuries to the limbs."
Two additional soldiers were lightly injured from the blast.
This is the second tracker killed in the area in as many years. In September 2006, a 44-year-old tracker was killed in a gun battle in the Gaza Strip.
The soldier, a father of 10, whose family also asked that his name not be made public, had served in the IDF for 19 years. He, too, was buried in his town's cemetery in a non-military funeral at the family's request.