Those we have lost

Sgt. First Class Omer Bitan, 22: Reservist with big life plans

Killed by a mortar fired from Gaza at Kibbutz Nirim on October 14

Sgt. First Class (res.) Omer Nissim Bitan (IDF)
Sgt. First Class (res.) Omer Nissim Bitan (IDF)

Sgt. First Class (res.) Omer Nissim Bitan, 22, a soldier in the 5th Brigade, from Binyamina, was killed on October 14 by a missile strike on Kibbutz Nirim.

He was called up to reserve duty on October 7. A week later, while stationed in Nirim next to the border, Hamas fired mortars at the kibbutz, which killed Omer and wounded four others.

He was buried on October 15 in Binyamina. He is survived by his parents, Ronit and Shimon, and his older sister Shelly.

Omer had completed his mandatory army service less than a year before he was called up to the reserves on that fateful Saturday. In that time he had taken the psychometric university entrance exam, started dating his girlfriend and bought a plane ticket for a big trip to South America, his family said.

His sister, Shelly, wrote on Instagram to her brother, “whose name I chose when I was 5 years old. You will stay forever 22 — how can that be??”

“There won’t be anyone to call me and ask me to prepare him something tasty and decadent, or to ask for me to send him videos of Harel and Lia to make your soul feel good,” she wrote. “I’m going back through all of our conversations and seeing how much our relationship really was special and not to be taken for granted. I miss you in every single way.”

Omer’s mother, Ronit, noted that at a memorial service, so many of his comrades came to pay their respects, including those he had only met when he began reserve duty on October 7.

“You managed in just one week, in a way only you knew how, to leave your stamp,” she wrote. “They remember the conversations you had with them, your captivating smile, the laughter, the Friday night meal that the whole platoon sat together and how dominant and funny you were.”

“I’m so proud of you that you always had good friends by your side, who became your brothers,” Ronit added. “At least they were with you in your final moments.”

Speaking at his funeral, his girlfriend, Noa Sapir, noted that only a few weeks earlier they had been vacationing in Montenegro and blissfully in love.

“A few days ago, you wrote to me that you understood what was important in life and you wanted to get married,” Noa said. “I stand here with tears of endless sadness, of grief, for the love of my life, for the loss of the angel who would protect me on earth. You were an angel and you always will be, only now you will watch over me from above.”

Everyone who knew him, she said, “knows what a heart of gold you have, anywhere you went if you saw someone struggling no matter who, no matter what, you would jump to help.” Noa said Omer was “the perfect combination of caring, humor, wisdom and generosity which came from the depths of your soul, boundless kindness, and the most exacting moral compass.”

“Nothing in this world will take you from my heart for the rest of my life, because you’re my one, my other half, my soulmate, and I’m so sorry that we’ll never get to accomplish all of our plans and dreams that we wanted in this world.”

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