Moshe Etzion, 88, the bereaved father of Ze’ev Etzion who was killed by rocket fire from Gaza during the 2014 war, took his own life at the gravesite of his son on the Hebrew anniversary of his death on Sunday.
The Etzion family lived in the southern Kibbutz Nirim, near the border with the Strip.
Moshe Etzion left his home early Sunday morning, and after he did not return for a number of hours, authorities launched a search for him.
He was found dead next to the grave of his son in the kibbutz, the Eshkol Regional Council said. He is to be buried tomorrow in Nirim.
His son Ze’ev, also known as Zevik, was a local security officer for the kibbutz during the 2014 war, as well as an emergency medic and ambulance driver.
Ze’ev was killed on August 26, 2014, when a Hamas-launched mortar shell landed in the kibbutz and shrapnel hit him. The seventh anniversary of his death fell on Sunday, according to the Jewish calendar.
The Nirim attack came amid a fierce bombardment of the towns and communities of southern Israel in the hour before a ceasefire agreed upon by Israeli and Palestinian representatives took effect.
“Moshe stood bravely not only in bereavement [of his son] but also in the circumstances of his life as a Holocaust survivor,” the kibbutz said in a statement on Sunday. “Since Zevik’s death, Moshe had been immersed in an endless effort to be worthy of Zevik’s legacy as he believed and recounted at dozens of places and events.
“For Moshe, Zevik’s death was another blow and another test that fate presented him as part of the revival of the Jewish people in its country, and he was determined to stand with his head held high,” it added.
Last year, the Etzion family published a book — “Always on the Road” — in Moshe’s honor which described his life story from early childhood in Krakow, famine in Siberia, the journey to Israel through Tehran, and eventually settling in Nirim.
“Today the road is at its end. Kibbutz Nirim mourns with the Etzion family,” the town said.
The Eshkol regional council added that Moshe was a known figure in the community, “a beloved and valued member in Eshkol. A symbol of the values of giving, the love of humanity and the country.”
Defense Minister Benny Gantz said the news of Etzion’s death was “devastating and tragic.”
“There are no words that can comfort a father who mourns his son. From the bottom of my heart and on behalf of the security establishment, I send condolences to his family,” Gantz tweeted on Sunday evening.