Lieutenant Yonatan Goutin, 20, a signals officer in the Multidomain Unit, was killed while rescuing civilians on Kibbutz Be’eri on October 7, 2023.
Goutin was brought up in Beit Shemesh and then moved with his parents to Modiin Maccabim-Reut. He grew up practicing judo and became a national champion in the youth division and a member of the youth national team.
“Yonatan was an outstanding athlete, Israeli champion for [the] children [division], second-place champion for youth and a member of the youth team,” said Igor Romanitsky, head of Modiin Maccabim-Reut’s local judo club.
“He had the possibility of becoming an outstanding athlete in the army, but he chose to be in combat,” Romanitsky told the local paper Modiin news.
Goutin served in the Multidomain Unit, also known as the Ghost Unit, established in 2020 to incorporate a wide range of capabilities from various branches of the military: infantry troops, fighter jets, attack helicopters, tanks, combat engineering, drones, K-9s and robotics.
Romanitsky said Goutin was “one of the best trainees I’ve had in the 30 years I’ve been coaching,” describing him as a “an uncompromising fighter,” training through months with an injury, a beloved teammate and son, a positive person, and someone who showed respect to his opponents.
“We were close, I loved him,” he said, adding that he hopes to “hold a national competition in his memory.”
Romanitsky said he heard Goutin “went from house to house to rescue families. He and his teammates saved three families. By the fourth house they entered, it was over.”
Oren Smadja, a former competitive judoka and the head coach of the Israel National Team wrote on Facebook that when Goutin and other fighters in his unit arrived at the kibbutz, “it was already clear that they had reached hell.”
“They were given a mission to join and assist a force of paratroopers, which had suffered heavy losses, in a rescue mission of the residents of Be’eri. The lieutenant commander who led the force wanted to be sure about each of the fighters who would go on the mission with him and asked Yonatan: ‘Are you sure you want to enter?’ And Yonatan answered him: ‘I’m with you completely, brother,’ Smajda said.
“He was determined, focused and cold — just like he was before judo battles,” he described.
A woman whose daughter was close friends with Goutin and knew his family wrote on Facebook that he “grew up in an endlessly loving home, a home that sanctified life.”
She said Yonatan’s father eulogized him and recounted how when he gave him a ride down south on October 7, told him “don’t be a hero.”
“But Yonatan couldn’t not be a hero. Just before his death, he saved a family. The heart really cannot contain the pain,” she wrote.
Goutin leaves behind parents and a sister.