Avner Netanyahu, the youngest son of Israel’s prime minister, began his military service in the Israel Defense Forces on Monday after being given a heartfelt sendoff by his parents, who came along to see him board the bus.
Netanyahu reported for duty at the Ammunition Hill collection point, the main location where new recruits from the capital gather before being bused to the IDF’s induction center near Tel Aviv.
Proud parents Benjamin and Sara were on hand to see their son off, as was Avner’s older brother, Yair, who has already completed his military service.
“We are moved just like every mother and father who watch their son go off to the army,” Netanyahu said. “We are full of pride and naturally worry. Everyone knows this, every home in Israel, and we are no different. I told Avner to take care of the state and to take care of himself.”
Avner is expected to join a combat unit engaged in field intelligence.
“I wish success to all the soldiers who are being inducted today and to all the parents who are feeling the way we do — calm down, it will be okay,” advised the prime minister who, during his own army service, was an officer in the elite Sayeret Matkal commando unit.
“May they all come home safely,” added Sara Netanyahu, who squeezed in one last hug before Avner boarded his bus.
Avner made headlines in 2010 when he finished third in an international Bible quiz held each year on Israel’s Independence Day. Although offered a spot in the army’s media corps he chose to serve in a combat role.
On Sunday dozens of family and friends attended a seeing off party for Avner held at the Netanyahu’s Jerusalem home.
Older brother Yair, who saw out his service in the IDF’s spokesperson’s office, was the only non-commissioned soldier in the army to have a bodyguard detail, a measure usually reserved only for very senior officers.