Those we have lost

Sgt. 1st Class Yaakov Ozeri, 28: Artist killed before child’s birth

Fell while battling against Hamas in northern Gaza on November 7, 2023

Sgt. First Class (res.) Yaakov Ozeri (Courtesy)
Sgt. First Class (res.) Yaakov Ozeri (Courtesy)

Sgt. First Class (res.) Yaakov Ozeri, 28, a soldier in the 401st Armored Brigade’s 52nd Battalion, from Kfar Shamai, was killed on November 7, 2023, while battling against Hamas in northern Gaza.

Yaakov was called up to reserve duty on October 21 following the outbreak of the war, and was sent into Gaza not long after. His family said they were told by the army that he was killed in a tank explosion rigged by Hamas operatives.

He was buried on November 8 in Meron. He is survived by his partner, Hagar Daniels, their daughter, Ella, who was born four months after he was killed, as well as his parents, Lilian and Yisrael, and his six siblings, Tehila, Nofar, Tzlil, Lior, Yehiel and Aviv.

His brother, Yehiel, told Ynet that Yaakov was galvanized by the October 7 Hamas assault: “He wasn’t calm, he wanted to give back as much as he could. He volunteered in efforts, he joined the local security team [where he grew up] despite living in Binyamina, he pushed for them to call him up to the reserves, even though he had an exemption — he wouldn’t let it go.”

In the weeks between the attack and his reserve duty, Yaakov also used his sewing skills to create all sorts of army accessories for soldiers on the front lines.

Yehiel said Yaakov was first stationed on a base in the north but he pushed to be sent south, “He wanted to be in Gaza. He had values, I am sure that he had no shadow of a doubt about what he was doing and what he was fighting for.”

Yaakov, who spent two years traveling abroad following his army service, was a student of industrial design at the Shenkar College in Ramat Gan. He was also an artist as well as a tattoo artist, sharing his works on his Instagram page “The Traveling Ink,” with the final post dated October 7, 2023.

Alex Padwa, who taught Yaakov in the past, told Portfolio magazine that “there was something exceptional in this guy — and I’m not just saying that because of the tragedy… it was clear that he was a born designer, with huge talent, in his element, even if it was hard for him sometimes. He had a high aesthetic sensitivity, a different kind of thinking and creativity. And courage.”

On what would have been his 29th birthday, Yaakov’s sister, Tehila, wrote on Instagram that he was “the most wonderful gift that we could get as a family. It was too short, but you will be in our hearts forever.”

Hagar was 22 weeks pregnant when Yaakov was killed, telling Maariv in February that he was so excited for the birth, that he had already felt the baby kick and that they had picked out the name together.

“We didn’t get a chance to get married, we said we’d get married after everything was over, but we never managed,” she said. “Yaakov could have been the most incredible father in the world, he was looking forward to it.”

She told Ynet that Yaakov crammed so much into his days, even while he was fighting in the south and in Gaza he filled every moment. After he was killed, she said, the army returned to her “eight crates of his belongings — he took the whole house, his sewing machine, dishes, his coffee maker, everything that would make everyone’s life a little easier.”

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