Those we have lost

Sgt. Benyamin Gavriel Yona, 19: Helped struggling parents pay rent

Killed by Hamas terrorists en route to restock an Iron Dome battery on October 7

Sgt. Benyamin Gavriel Yona (Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit).
Sgt. Benyamin Gavriel Yona (Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit).

Sgt. Benyamin Gavriel Yona, 19, a heavy-load truck driver in the Israeli Air Force from Jerusalem, was killed by Hamas terrorists on October 7.

Yona drove Cpt. Sahar Saudyan and Sgt. Nativ Kuzaro to restock the defense battery with interceptor missiles a few hours into Hamas’s deadly onslaught. Their base was in the same area as the Supernova festival, where hundreds were killed, and the missiles are stored nearby, not far from the battery.

All three were shot dead in their vehicle. Their bodies were recovered and identified several days later. They were the first Iron Dome battery operators to be killed in battle.

In his last moments, Yona sent a message to his family members, telling them to lock their doors and hide in their homes.

He was buried on October 12 at the Mount Herzl Military Cemetery in Jerusalem. He is survived by his parents, Netanel and Sofia, as well as his older sister, Elinor.

Yona is remembered as a young man who was always there for his family and helped his parents at every available opportunity.

Yona and his sister Elinor had a difficult childhood, with both their parents falling ill and incurring large amounts of medical debt, according to a memorial posted by Yona’s high school, Boys Town Jerusalem.

All throughout high school, Yona worked various odd jobs to help pay his parents’ bills.

Despite this, the memorial explained, “He maintained a childlike innocence and a constant, contagious optimism.”

Yona’s sister Elinor told Israel’s Channel 13 that, as a child, he was a jokester with a big personality who loved gummy candies.

According to Israel’s Army Radio, Yona also had a soft spot for animals. He once drove to an army base near Bethlehem to rescue four puppies, cared for an injured bird he found on the street, and took in an abandoned rabbit.

Yona dreamed of becoming a DJ and had already begun purchasing equipment. He also wanted to propose to his girlfriend once he finished his military service, according to his sister.

בן דוד יקר שלי רב״ט בנימין גבריאל יונה, בן 19, מירושלים, נהג משא כבד בגדוד 947, מערך ההגנה האווירית

Posted by Menachem Levi on Wednesday, October 11, 2023

“Benyamin was a very special person,” Elinor said, according to a local Jerusalem news website.

“He loved music, loved to help, wasn’t afraid of anything. To me, he was always a playful little brother.”

“Benyamin climbed straight into my heart at age 13 when he first enrolled in Boys Town Jerusalem,” Hadas Knopf, a former social worker at the school, recalled in a memorial post.

“He faced tough challenges in his life but had a big heart for all and a smile that shined from within. No one will ever forget Benyamin’s beautiful soul.”

Read more Those We Have Lost stories here.

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