Those We Have Lost

Sgt. Benji Needham, 19: UK-born champion kickboxer

Killed fighting in northern Gaza on December 3

Sgt. Binyamin 'Benji' Needham who was killed in Gaza on December 3, 2023. (Courtesy)
Sgt. Binyamin 'Benji' Needham who was killed in Gaza on December 3, 2023. (Courtesy)

Sgt. Binyamin Yehoshua “Benji” Needham, 19, a British-Israeli dual citizen and a soldier in the Combat Engineering Corps’ 601st Battalion, was killed fighting in Gaza on December 3.

Needham, who was born in London and moved to Israel when he was 8 years old, lived with his family in Zichron Yaakov. His family said he had been killed just two weeks after his 19th birthday, and only two days after he entered Gaza. He was buried in Zichron Yaakov on December 5.

A day after his death, the IDF published footage showing Needham’s battalion fighting against Hamas operatives who opened fire at them from a building in the battle that claimed his life.

He is survived by his parents, Faye and Amnon, and five older siblings, some of whom live in the UK.

Needham was a champion kickboxer, who took second place nationally two years ago. He was remembered by friends and family as being funny, charming and devoted to protecting the country.

Hillary Arnon, his guidance counselor through three years of high school, told Maariv that “it sounds cliche, but Benji really was a special kid. He had a good heart, full of charm. In school, we would call him ‘charmer,’ because he always knew how to act. He was mischievous but never insolent, and you could never get mad at him because every conversation with him would end in a smile.”

His sister Orli Ferris told the Mirror news outlet that “he will be missed by all of us and so many others, but we will always make sure we remember him in our hearts. Nothing will be the same now, but we are all very proud of what he did and he was also proud of what he was doing.”

Ferris told the news site that her brother “had just finished his apprenticeship and was doing his professional training. We don’t know the exact details of what happened but he was only in Gaza for two days. He went in on Friday and died Sunday.”

She said the whole family is “heartbroken. We shall honor him and keep his memory alive. He was a wonderful boy and everyone who knew him said the same. He died with a pure soul and he died protecting his country.”

Ferris told the Kan public broadcaster that her youngest brother “was the life and soul of our family, of every occasion… he had his whole life in front of him.” She said after the family’s aliyah to Israel a decade ago, “he fit in here like a glove.”

She said she last spoke to her brother on Friday, shortly before Shabbat started, on the day he entered Gaza: “He said I’m fine, everything will be OK, you don’t need to worry about me.”

Read more Those We Have Lost stories here. 

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