Those we have lost

Staff Sgt. Benyamin Belay, 20: Soldier was devoted to his parents

Killed while battling the Hamas invasion of the Kissufim outpost on October 7

Staff Sgt. Benyamin Belay (IDF)
Staff Sgt. Benyamin Belay (IDF)

Staff Sgt. Benyamin “Beny” Belay, 20, a driver in the Gaza Division’s Southern Brigade, from Rehovot, was killed on October 7 battling Hamas terrorists at the Kissufim IDF outpost.

Survivors said that 19 people on base had piled into the bomb shelter when the rocket fire began, but only five of them were armed, never imagining a Hamas invasion of the base. A number of soldiers were killed in the ensuing gunfire, including Benyamin and several of his comrades.

His sister, Oshrat, told a local news site that he called her early that morning and told her of the Hamas infiltration into the base, “and that they were entering the bomb shelter, where he was with his friend. That was my final conversation with him.”

His family did not know of his fate until five days later, when they were informed by the military that he had been killed.

Benyamin was buried on October 13 in Rehovot. He is survived by his parents, Woizero and Fanta, and his siblings Mazal, Oshrat, Maayan and Avior, as well as his girlfriend, Keren Bitao.

His friends and family said he was hardworking and devoted to his family, spending his time off-duty from the military working at a local bakery. He planned to take his girlfriend abroad to Prague for her birthday, and dreamed of one day having his own business.

On an Instagram memorial page, his loved ones wrote on what would have been his 21st birthday: “You are missed in every moment, your memory accompanies us always.”

“You were a true friend, brave, you gave your all for the country and its people,” the post continued. “We are proud that we got to know you, all of the experiences we shared are etched onto our hearts.”

In a post marking 100 days since he was killed, Beny’s girlfriend Keren said she was struggling with her grief, and “usually it was your job, when I was having a hard time, I would call you and you would always find a way to make me happy.”

“So at night I speak to you, I know that you hear me and sometimes I even imagine that you answer me,” she continued, writing of their imaginary exchanges. “You would tell me that you would never leave me alone, so I have no doubt that I am not alone and you are with me every moment of the day, listening and watching me.”

Keren wrote that she knew Beny for around eight years, and they were friends about three years and in a relationship for about a year and a half, “and I saw in that the most beautiful thing in the world, we were the best friends in the world and after that we were lovers. That’s the story we should have been able to tell to every one of the five children we wanted.”

One, she added, “I asked you what your biggest dream was, and you answered that it was to take care of your parents. I fell in love with you even deeper,” wrote Keren. “You are the child I would wish for every set of parents to raise and the man I would want for every woman. Thank you for the privilege of being your girlfriend, I love you.”

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