Those We Have Lost

Cpl. Yonatan Elazari, 19: Unarmed trainee went to fight back invasion

Killed battling Hamas terrorists in Ofakim on October 7

Cpl. Yonatan Elazari who was killed in Ofakim on October 7, 2023. (IDF)
Cpl. Yonatan Elazari who was killed in Ofakim on October 7, 2023. (IDF)

Cpl. Yonatan Elazari, 19, a soldier in the Paratroopers Brigade from Alon Shvut, was killed on October 7 while battling Hamas terrorists in Ofakim.

He was buried in Kfar Etzion on October 11. He is survived by his parents, Miriam and Idan, and his siblings Tamar, Boaz, Shlomit and Avigayil.

Yonatan was only in basic training on October 7, and was off-duty spending the Simhat Torah holiday in Ofakim, at the pre-military yeshiva he had attended before enlisting, when the Hamas onslaught began. Though he was unarmed, according to media reports, he decided to head outside to try to fight back against the terrorist invasion, taking only rocks with him. He later got a knife from a soldier he encountered, his family said.

He then picked up a weapon that had been used by a seriously wounded policeman who had been evacuated from the scene and took it, his family said, despite not knowing how to use it. He took up position on the roof of a building and used the gun to shoot at terrorists on the street below, until he was shot dead. His family said that a day later his body was found on the roof surrounded by shell casings and with a smile on his face.

“He was all bravery and all gentleness, exuberant joy and playfulness,” his father wrote in a eulogy. “Full of initiative and originality and with his charm winning over all those around him to fall in love with him and want to be near him. He was a loyal friend who would always jump to help, just how he jumped into battle naturally with bravery, and died a hero’s death in a battle which stopped a terrorist cell in Ofakim.”

His father, Idan, wrote that “they found him dead on the roof with a smile on his face. I am sure that that smile did not leave your face from the moment you entered the battlefield. Thrown on the roof of the house, with your red Shoresh sandals, a commando knife in your belt and surrounded by bullets. You looked so peaceful… goodbye my son. My love for you will never cease.”

On an Arutz Sheva podcast, his mother, Miriam, described her son as “mischevious, sweet, sweet, sweet, just a heartbreaker of a kid, with curls, light, laughing eyes, and always a smile — he was always happy.”

“He dreamed of being a fighter, he was gentle and sensitive but he was very physical, he was into extreme, he did rock climbing, had a knife collection, he did a carving extracurricular activity as a kid, and also archery,” she said.

Miriam last saw him, she said, a week before his death, on the first day of Sukkot, when the entire family was together for the holiday — a rare occasion. On October 7, she said, the yeshiva told all the students present to stay in the bomb shelter, and for those with weapons to man the entrances and exits, “but Yonatan went out anyway.”

“Everyone who knew him wasn’t surprised” by his actions that day.

Read more Those We Have Lost stories here.

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