Staff Sgt. Shimon Alroy Ben Shitrit, 20, was killed in a gun battle as he and his fellow soldiers tried and failed to stave off the Hamas attack on the Nahal Oz army base on the morning of October 7.
For four days, Alroy was listed as “missing” until his body was identified and his parents informed of his death.
Alroy’s father, Rafi Ben Shitrit, is a former mayor of Beit Shean and a councilman for the northern Israel city. On the morning his son was identified, Rafi wrote on social media “g-d giveth, and g-d taketh away, g-d’s name will be blessed from now until eternity.”
He continued “my beautiful, pure angel, dad’s hero. Thank you for all that you were for us.”
Alroy was given a warrior’s funeral in Beit Shean, a farewell befitting a local hero in the northern Israel city that can feel close-knit even if your father isn’t a former mayor.
A local news site wrote that “the city of Beit Shean is left speechless and in pain over the death of Alroy Ben Shitrit.”
Alroy’s cousin, Liraz Sharvit wrote online, “Our Alroy, you were an angel with a captivating smile when you were still alive. You were kind with a sensitive heart. It’s hard to digest the enormity of this disaster. Our hearts are broken, smashed, and burned.”
Pictures of Alroy posted online show a striking young soldier with piercing eyes, no older than 20 at the time of his death. Alroy was the youngest child in his family and left behind his parents and three sisters.
Alroy served in a combat intelligence collection unit posted on the Nahal Oz base on the Gaza border. His father Rafi described how his son was part of a team that operated observation balloons that floated over the Gaza border and he had only been moved to Nahal Oz two months before the attack.
In an interview on Channel 14, Rafi described how his son went through combat training as a fighter and that he and the other four balloon operators put up a heroic fight when the base was overrun by Hamas gunmen who far outnumbered them.
Rafi told the interviewer that before the army told him what happened during the battle for the Nahal Oz base, when people asked him how he’s doing he would stare off at the wall and not know what to say.
Now, knowing that his son died heroically trying to fight an invading force against all odds, he knows what to say.
“Now I say, I’m a proud father of a fighter who died in order that all of us can leave here in peace and security.”