Staff Sgt. Lavi Lipshitz, 20, a soldier in the Givati Brigade’s reconnaissance unit, was killed in the northern Gaza Strip on October 31 by a Hamas RPG missile.
The slain soldier, who had a lifelong passion for art and cinema, opened an Instagram account earlier this year under the name “Until When — A Photo Diary,” where he uploaded photos of his day-to-day life in the army.
Since his death, Israelis have flocked to his Instagram page to post replies under his photos, turning his account into an online memorial.
“Heartbroken, a hero of Israel,” wrote Israeli actor Michael Moshonov under Lipshitz’s most recent post. “Your art will sell in the millions.”
The photos, which he posted on an almost daily basis, captured the mundane aspects of his army service: soldiers resting on the bus, stops at gas stations and out-of-order urinals.
Lipshitz was an admirer of the director Wes Anderson and paid tribute to his cinematographic style with a video he shot during his army service. The video went viral after his death.
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Lavi was born to Nitzan and Shlomit Lipshitz and grew up in Modi’in Maccabim-Re’ut. His high school studies were at the Israel Arts and Science Academy (IASA) where he majored in art.
He is survived by his parents, his older sister and two younger brothers.
Lipshitz’s funeral was held at Mount Herzl on November 1. At the end of her eulogy, Lavi’s older sister Anafa read from a letter that he left for her on a computer file, which he wrote in case something were to happen to him.
“I ask you not to sink into grief. It may be daily and exhausting, but the action that can grow from it, it is not exhausting, but constructive. Nothing is more difficult for me than idleness, so I ask everyone around me — always be doing something.”
Lipshitz’s father, Nitzan, spoke about his son in a statement to the media: “He had a profound sensitivity. He was a very sensitive person, his dream was not to be a soldier, he wanted to be a photographer.”