Ofek Arazi, 28, was killed on October 7 while defending Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak from a Hamas invasion.
Since he was a member of the kibbutz’s local security team, he was recognized retroactively as a fallen soldier with the rank of sergeant first class in the reserves. He was laid to rest on October 22.
Arazi, a native of the kibbutz, is survived by his parents, Hagit and Yoel, and siblings Nuriel and Mai.
On the morning of October 7, he was called up by the head of the kibbutz’s security team, Yaron Shahar, to come to the gate of the community and fight back against the terrorist invasion. Both Arazi and Shahar were killed, as were Oren Goldin and several others. Tal Chaimi was taken captive, as were Clara Marman, Fernando Marman, Norberto Louis Har, Gabriela Leimberg and Mia Leimberg; Clara, Gabriela and Mia were later released.
When Arazi got the call, “he smiled his huge smile, put on a helmet and headed for the gate,” according to a statement from the kibbutz. “They fought just a few of them against dozens of gunmen and waited for the army to arrive and help. But that didn’t happen. They fought until the end to protect the home they loved so much. Ofek, a big guy with a huge heart, a captivating smile and endless sensitivity.”
His brother-in-law, Daniel Matari, wrote on Facebook, “You left us young but you left us as a hero who fought for his home! You protected all of us and I’m not even able to thank you. I miss you my love, you will be missed at our Shabbat table… I’ll miss arguing with you about religion, and your laughter,” wrote Matari.
Ofek’s lifelong friend, Gideon Levin Haimi, wrote that it was unthinkable for him to eulogize someone so young.
“You were always the strongest, the biggest, the most caring and the most sensitive,” he wrote. “Anytime we were at a party or on a trip and anyone would bother us, we would always say with a smile, ‘Nobody will come near us, Ofek is here, we can be calm, there’s no reason to be afraid.’ But now you’re not with us anymore, and we are a little more afraid. And we will never be fully calm again.”
Ofek’s sister, Mai Arazi, wrote that she could barely find the words to describe her broken heart.
“You went out to protect us, your wide heart took the initiative, you had no idea what you were getting into,” she wrote. “You left us with a big smile that said ‘Be calm, I’m protecting you.’ We love you so much and miss you so much it hurts. We are praying that one day we will wake up and find that this was all a nightmare. You will always remain our younger brother, forever young.”