Those we have lost

Sgt. 1st Class Yonathan Chazor, 22: Elite fighter with ‘artistic soul’

Killed while battling Hamas in the northern Gaza Strip on November 7

Sgt. First Class Yonathan Chazor (IDF)
Sgt. First Class Yonathan Chazor (IDF)

Sgt. First Class Yonathan Chazor, 22, a soldier in the Air Force’s elite Shaldag unit, from Katzir, was killed fighting Hamas terrorists in the northern Gaza Strip on November 7.

He was buried on November 9 in Givat Brenner. He is survived by his parents, Dafna and Avner, and his older brother Eyal.

Yonathan was in Sri Lanka on vacation when the Hamas October 7 onslaught began, and he immediately headed back to Israel to return to active duty. At his funeral, his comrade read out the message he sent them after his return home: “I’m in Brenner, getting ready, I’ll be with the unit soon, take me into account… If you need me, schedule me in. I want to contribute.”

A talented artist, he drew and created from a young age, continuing with his hobby until his very last days. He was also accomplished in karate, even competing internationally.

At his funeral, his father, Avner, recalled — according to Ynet — that “you loved to run in the kibbutz, you were a perfectionist in everything, in drawing, sculpture, karate. The [Shaldag] unit was a good fit for you… despite all your talent, you were never arrogant, you had a quiet inner confidence, without hubris.”

His comrades told his family after his death that shortly before he was killed he even drew an image of his dog, Oscar, who had just recently died, in chalk on the board of a school in Gaza which the soldiers were using as a base of operations. It was his final ever drawing, immortalized in a photo snapped by a comrade.

Anat Eshel-Gur, who trained with him in karate, told Haaretz that “he was very modest and open, not set in his way like most kids his age. He was patient and attentive. We traveled together to a training camp in Belgium and I saw his drawings on his phone and was deeply moved.”

In a Memorial Day post on the Israeli Air Force website, his mother, Dafna, said, “Already from age 2 we let him draw alone in his room. His art was his most private place, it was an island of quiet for him. Yonathan gave his all to everything and demanded the best from himself, but he had a unique and deeper passion for art.”

Dafna said her son was quiet and reserved, “and he expressed how he felt through drawing and only sometimes spoke about his feelings with me and with his close friends… I knew to give him his space because I understood that was his way to express his feelings.”

His older brother, Eyal, told the IAF site that “Yonathan had many contrasting qualities, that somehow complemented each other, and made him who he was. On the one hand, he was a tough fighter who pushed himself forward, and on the other hand, he had the soul of an artist, of a sensitive and gentle guy.”

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