IDF Captain (res.) Yuval Halivni, 30, was killed in a gunfight with Hamas terrorists in the city of Sderot on October 9.
Halivni, a former member of the elite Maglan unit who served as a reserves fighter for Battalion 7008, was fighting gunmen who entrenched themselves inside the city, two days after they crossed from Gaza as part of the mass invasion.
The resident of Misgav Dov, near Gedera, was buried in the Gderot Regional Cemetery on October 13.
Halivni, who worked in organizing outdoor desert camping, is survived by his wife Amit and their two-year-old son Yonatan, as well as by his parents and three siblings.
“Yuval died as a hero. The battle you died in saved the lives of residents of Sderot,” said the commander of his reserves battalion during the funeral, adding that they had been called up on October 7. “As always, you were professional and organized, a moral example to friends and the first to remark when something is not okay.”
At the funeral, famous singer Yoni Rechter sang his song “Kol Od,” a favorite of Yuval, who himself sang the song to his family at a Rosh Hashanah gathering weeks before his death.
“My Yuval, for 13 years I have been ‘Yuval’s Amit,’ almost half our lives,” said Amit, Yuval’s widow, who met him when they were both in the Scouts youth movement. “You are the king of optimism, even in the hardest of times.”
Amit recounted how her husband had saved her life two months before his death, after they suffered a stillbirth.
“I thought that was the toughest point in our lives,” she said through tears. “You waited for this child so much. I lost a lot of blood and you were my guardian angel. Thanks to you, I am now alive, and now you are not.
“It was obvious that you would be the first to pack your bag for reserve duty, even though you didn’t want to go,” she added. “You always thought about everyone else before yourself.
“I didn’t want you to be everyone’s hero; I wanted you to be my hero, our Yonatan’s hero. Now you are everyone’s. I love you as words can never describe.”
On November 12, the family gathered at Halivni’s grave to mark 30 days since his death.
“I want my kid back,” said his mother, Nirit. “The blue-eyed, gleaming guy who is all light and gentleness and innocence, who has no drop of evil and is all about goodness and benevolence.
“I want him back, for him to tell me the sentence he told me in so many conversations over the past year.
“‘Mom,’ he would tell me, ‘I want you to know that you really don’t need to worry about me. Look, I’m really really okay.'”