Those we have lost

Staff Sgt. Rotem Dushi, 20: MDA volunteer was the soul of his family

Killed while battling Hamas terrorists in Kibbutz Kfar Aza on October 7

Staff Sgt. Rotem Dushi (IDF)
Staff Sgt. Rotem Dushi (IDF)

Staff Sgt. Rotem Dushi, 20, a fighter in the Paratroopers Brigade from Shimshit, was killed battling Hamas on October 7 in Kibbutz Kfar Aza.

His family said he was home that weekend and was called to the front line when the attack began. His father dropped him off at a pickup point near their home in the north so he could head south. His father said that Rotem texted him “to take care of [his girlfriend] Adi and not to tell her that he was heading to the south.” That was the last they heard from him.

His unit arrived first near Netiv Ha’asara, before being called to Kfar Aza, the site of some of the worst atrocities. There Rotem was shot dead while battling the Hamas terrorists who had infiltrated the kibbutz.

He was buried on October 12 in Kibbutz Hanaton. He is survived by his parents, Yaron and Dovrat, and his brother Itai, sister Hadar and girlfriend Adi Zada.

Loved ones said he was devoted to the Maccabi Tel Aviv team, and had a special love for malabi — he was even found with an unfinished punch-card for the iconic Middle Eastern dessert on his body after his death.

A volunteer with the Magen David Adom ambulance service, MDA said Rotem “loved to save lives. His friends said he was always the first to volunteer.”

Writing in Israel Hayom, his family said “Rotem was the soul of the family, the mischievous kid with the biggest heart, the funniest, when you were with him there was no room for sadness.”

“Rotem loved life, loved Maccabi Tel Aviv, loved music,” they said. “Anywhere he went he would enter with the most perfect smile into the hearts of everyone. Rotem was the beating heart of every group, the heart of all of us.”

His girlfriend Adi wrote in Ynet: “Rotem, you are the strongest, bravest and kindest-hearted person I’ve ever met… your personal charm, your grace, your beauty, your joy will accompany me forever! Your kind eyes and the most captivating smile in the world are etched into my memory.”

Rotem’s father, Yaron, told a local news site, “Rotem was the joy of the house, he was known in the whole [Jezreel] Valley, everywhere he went he touched people.”

Yaron said that Rotem loved Maccabi Tel Aviv so much that he was always trying to time his army breaks so he could attend games.

“His joy for life was contagious, he connected with people in a minute. He was liked by all and you could never be angry at him. He was funny, mischievous and did pranks… he had a smile that melted everyone,” his father added. Rotem “was so proud to be a combat soldier, he was always the first for everything. The first to charge ahead, the first for everything in his friend group.”

His plan after the army, Yaron said, “was to enjoy life. That’s what he would tell his friends… 20 years he enjoyed life but it wasn’t enough, and 20 years we enjoyed him and that wasn’t enough either.”

Read more Those We Have Lost stories here.

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