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Their stories: These are the 5 fallen heroes killed by friendly-fire in Gaza

The young paratroopers all had deep roots in Zionism and shared traits of service of others, love of country and an understanding of the sacrifices that come with them

Elisha Ben Kimon, Nir Cohen, Gilad Cohen, Israel Moskowitz, Ra'anan Ben Zur, Itamar Eichner, Yael Ciechanover|Updated:
Sergeant Ilan Cohen, 20, a lone soldier from Argentina, was killed in Jabaliya in a friendly-fire incident on Wednesday near Jabaliya in Gaza. Captain Roy Beit Yaakov, 22, who became the 21st fallen graduate of the Eli pre-military academy, was also killed. During the intense fighting in Gaza, he managed to meet up with his father, who was on reserve duty in the Strip. Alongside them, Staff Sergeant Gilad Arye Boim, 22, Staff Sergeant Betzlel David Shashuah, 21, and Sergeant Daniel Chemu, 20, also fell in the tragic incident.
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רועי בית יעקב  גילעד אריה בוים סמל דניאל חמו  סמל אילן כהן בצלאל דוד שעשוע
רועי בית יעקב  גילעד אריה בוים סמל דניאל חמו  סמל אילן כהן בצלאל דוד שעשוע
The fallen troops
Cohen's parents, David and Adriana from Carmiel, were informed of his death while still in Argentina by the Israeli ambassador. They are now making their way to Israel. Cohen had moved to Israel after finishing high school in Argentina. He initially studied at the Chabad Yeshiva in Migdal HaEmek and, since last December, had been a student at the Har Bracha Yeshiva before joining the Paratroopers Brigade, Battalion 202.
A rabbi from the umbrella organization of the Jewish community in Argentina eulogized him, saying: "The Jewish community in Buenos Aires is in deep mourning due to the fall of Sgt. Ilan Cohen, the first lone soldier from Argentina to fall in war." He will be buried at the Mount Herzl military cemetery. Rabbi Akiva Goldschmidt, the spiritual director at the Chabad Yeshiva in Migdal HaEmek where Cohen studied, reflected: "Ilan came to us as a teenager from Argentina at the age of 18 and studied here for about a year and a half before moving to the Har Bracha Yeshiva and joining the paratroopers.
"He was a bright boy full of life’s joy, deeply connected to Israel – a true Zionist who came to Israel to enlist in the IDF. He spoke passionately about it in the yeshiva, and we all knew he was in the paratroopers. He sent us pictures, updated us on his enlistment and progress, visited the yeshiva often after his enlistment, and remained very connected to us. We are all in shock and mourning this tragedy."
Captain Roy Beit Yaakov from Eli left behind his parents, Hadas and Avidan (the head of the settlement), and seven siblings: Shahar, Yonatan, Eitan, Ya'ara, Yuval, Naama and Inbal. His family fondly remembered him as "a quiet and gentle warrior, humble and modest, focused on what mattered to him. He had a sense of humor, gentle sarcasm and loved pampering his family and cooking for them. He cherished his friends and the small, good things in life."
His father shared poignant memories in an interview with Ynet: "Roy was a sweet kid, very excited when he joined the army. At home, we saw his sweetness, but in the army, they saw his precision and professionalism. Roy wasn't a man of many words; he just acted quietly and precisely, deeply believing in his mission. We often discussed the price he might pay – it didn't deter him. The possibility of something happening to him came up in our conversations, sometimes with cynicism or during casual chats."
"We also had the honor of fighting together in Khan Younis," Avidan Beit Yaakov said. "It's a war, but I felt it was the highest place one could be – a father and son together for the people of Israel. We talked about these things. When you go there, you know that's the price you might pay. Our last conversation was during the Independence Day ceremony. I am the head of the Eli settlement, and I was sitting next to the Finance Minister Smotrich when Roy called to say, 'Dad, we're going in.' I wished him well, told him to do the job right, and that was it – a minute-long call in the midst of the ceremony, and that’s how we said goodbye."
Roy meets his father Avidan in Gaza
Staff Sergeant Gilad Arye Boim from Karnei Shomron was the youngest of five siblings. His uncle, journalist and radio broadcaster Kalman Liebskind, eulogized him: "Gilad, our beloved nephew, a child full of light and goodness, a loyal soldier of this good land, was killed defending the homeland." Chemi Trachtenberg, a soldier in the Haredi Arrow Company of the paratroopers, also paid tribute on the X platform: "My friend Gilad Boim fell in the Gaza Strip. He was a golden guy, always caring for every soldier with all his heart."
Yonathan Kuznitz, head of the Karnei Shomron Municipal Council, paid tribute to the young soldier. "The Karnei Shomron community bows its head and mourns the loss of Gilad. A Zionist and devoted family, part of the core founding families of Karnei Shomron. Gilad's grandfather, Yehoshua Israeli, was a fighter sentenced to death by the British but survived and built a magnificent family. Gilad is the fifth casualty from Karnei Shomron since the beginning of the operation, and we pray he will be the last. The council team and I are here for the Boim family, who paid the ultimate price, and we will support them in any way needed. May we be worthy of Gilad and all IDF soldiers and security forces who gave their lives for us."
Sergeant Daniel Chemu from Tiberias left behind his parents, Eliyahu and Sarah, and his family who reside in Netanya. A former teacher, Adi Carmi, recalled him as a teenager. "Daniel came from an ultra-Orthodox family and joined us at 15 and a half. He was a very curious, smart, socially active and sensitive teenager, a role model for many students, who used to volunteer before Purim and Passover to help needy families. A boy with a big heart."
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עזה מחנה פליטים ג'בליה
עזה מחנה פליטים ג'בליה
IDF attacks in Jabaliya
(Photo: AFP)
Mira Duchan, his high school principal, added: "Daniel always participated in all school activities. We accompanied his enlistment process and were proud that he reached meaningful and valuable service in the paratroopers. He always aspired to significant service and fulfilled his dream. He took part in the 'Aharai' (Follow Me) program in Tiberias, and last Sunday we sent him a motivational video before he entered Gaza. He sent us a picture from the beret ceremony in Gaza a few months ago. A teacher from the staff personally accompanied him since his enlistment."
Staff Sergeant Betzlel David Shashuah from Tel Aviv leaves behind his parents, Shai and Galit, and four siblings– one brother and three sisters. He was educated at the religious Imrei David Talmud Torah elementary school and continued his studies at the Yedidya Yeshiva high school in Petah Tikva.
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First published: 16:36, 05.16.24
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