Sgt. First Class Aviel Melkamu, a soldier in the elite Egoz commando unit from Kiryat Ata, was killed on October 9 while battling Hamas terrorists near Kibbutz Kissufim.
He is survived by his mother, Serawit, and his siblings Ilan, Rachel, Haim, Liron, Shaylee and his twin sister Bat-El. His family and friends memorialized him as someone who fought to enter an elite unit and was dedicated to his army service and to defending the State of Israel.
Hundreds gathered on October 30 to celebrate and commemorate what would have been the twins’ 22nd birthday, noting that only Bat-El turned 22 and Aviel will remain 21 forever.
His mother, Serawit, told Channel 12 news that in their final conversation, he promised “he would come home, with the flag of Israel flying, and you’ll receive me with a smile.”
His family shared with the news network a list of “dreams” found on his phone after his death, “that if you see it, you understand what kind of person my brother was, a man of values, a simple man,” said Bat-El.
The list included falling in love, flying overseas, hiking the Israel Trail, learning how to surf, buying a car, becoming an uncle, and more goals and aspirations that he will now never get to accomplish.
At his funeral, Bat-El said, “Everywhere we went we were always Bat-El and Aviel, and now it’s just me. You loved this country so much, you were the first to run into battle. Seven of your team were hurt but only you left us. My heart left with you.”
His older brother, Ilan Melkamu, wrote on Facebook that a month after his death he continues to “wake up every morning to another empty day… every night I write you a message and delete it.”
“It’s been a month and every week I look for your smile at the Shabbat table… I look for you to patronize me that I’m not a fighter and I don’t know how to hold a weapon,” he wrote.
“You are so missed by mom and all your siblings and friends. I’m trying to be strong for everyone but I’m burning inside,” he added. “Look how many people came to celebrate your 22nd birthday, but you’ll stay 21 forever.”
His older sister, Rachel Melkamu, wrote on Facebook that it was simply “not your time” to go.
“You are so very missed, the house is not the same without you. You are such a simple person but so great,” she wrote. “This entire time I haven’t stopped hearing stories about you. Be sure that I am filled with pride that you gave me the privilege of being your sister.”
Rachel wrote after they found his list of dreams, “I promise you we will make sure to do everything you didn’t yet manage, to make it come true.”
Ilan said that he last spoke with Aviel around 10 a.m. on the morning of October 9, “I asked him not to be a hero, but he sadly didn’t listen.”