Those We Have Lost

Staff Sgt. Emanuel Feleke, 21: Predicted he would die for homeland

Injured while fighting in Gaza on December 5 and died of his wounds December 6

Staff Sgt. Alemnew Emanuel Feleke who died on December 6, 2023 after being injured in Gaza the day before. (IDF)
Staff Sgt. Alemnew Emanuel Feleke who died on December 6, 2023 after being injured in Gaza the day before. (IDF)

Staff Sgt. Alemnew Emanuel Feleke, 22, of the Commando Brigade’s Duvdevan unit, from Kiryat Gat, was wounded December 5 during fighting in southern Gaza and succumbed to his wounds the following day.

He was buried on December 7 in the military cemetery in Kiryat Gat. He is survived by his parents, Andayehu and Mammay, and siblings Noam, Yoav, Sara and Leah.

Feleke’s family made aliya to Israel from Ethiopia in 2004 and lived for a year in an absorption center in Beersheba. From there, they moved to Bat Yam, where Feleke graduated from a yeshiva high school. The family moved to Kiryat Gat four years ago.

While volunteering with the fire and rescue service and guiding in the Bnei Akiva youth movement, Feleke participated in a program that combined Torah study with preparation for army service. He followed that up with additional Torah study in Safed.

According to his brother Noam, Feleke wanted to be drafted into the Commando Brigade but did not initially make it. He was accepted by the paratroopers, and when he tried out again for the Commando Brigade, he made it into the elite Duvdevan unit.

“He had recently finished the training course for that and received a company excellence award. He was supposed to go to officers’ training, but because of the war that got delayed and he stayed where he was to fight,” his brother said.

Noam said his brother “was always modest and very much liked to help. He gave of himself all the time, over and over.”

That was the main reason the family decided to donate his organs after his death, Noam said, as a way of continuing his spirit of giving.

His heart and lungs went to an unidentified patient, while his liver was donated to a 53-year-old woman, one of his kidneys and his pancreas were transplanted into a 45-year-old woman and his other kidney went to a 58-year-old man.

At his funeral, the deputy commander of Duvdevan, identified only as Maj. S, said “Emanuel was a symbol and a legend in his life. You were number one everywhere. Determined, goal-oriented, doing everything for the best. Imbued with a sense of mission and spirit and unafraid of challenges… and all this with enormous humility and modesty. You never felt a need to draw attention to yourself.”

Speaking at his brother’s funeral, Noam said Emanuel was always determined to serve in combat in the army, to defend and protect his beloved nation.

“You always said you would die protecting this homeland,” he said. “The resilience of this country, that our parents dreamed of, told stories that passed from person to person, a whole community which dreamed and achieved its dream. Nobody knows when he will return his soul to the creator. But you knew.”

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