Those We Have Lost

Staff Sgt. Shalev Dagan, 20: Golani soldier who left his twin behind

Killed battling Hamas near the border with Gaza on October 7

Staff Sgt. Shalev Dagan who was killed by Hamas on October 7, 2023. (IDF)
Staff Sgt. Shalev Dagan who was killed by Hamas on October 7, 2023. (IDF)

Staff Sgt. Shalev Dagan, 20, a Golani soldier from Kiryat Yam, was killed battling Hamas terrorists on October 7.

He is survived by his parents, Flor and Joel, his twin brother Omer and step-sisters Ofri and Carmel. He was buried on October 16 in the military cemetery in Nahariya.

At 5:30 a.m. on October 7, Dagan and three other Golani soldiers, Cpt. Omer Wolf, Staff Sgt. Maru Alem, and Itay Zarbib, piled into a “David” armored vehicle to do a routine patrol along the Gaza border fence.

They were the first to encounter the invasion of Hamas terrorists into southern Israel that morning, engaging in battle with a group of them astride motorcycles and pickup trucks. They fought for more than an hour at five different locations, preventing eight terrorists from entering Kibbutz Nirim and succeeded in delaying the invasion by two hours.

Zarbib, the driver of the David and the lone survivor of the four, told Channel 13 that the group saw a terrorist carrying an RPG launcher and tried to dodge the attack. Dagan and Alem were in the back seat; Alem jumped first and was shot dead by the terrorists, Dagan jumped second and returned fire and was hit and killed by the RPG.

Zarbib and Wolf, seated in the front, exited the vehicle to fight the terrorists; Zarbib was shot and wounded and later rescued, while Wolf was shot and killed.

Dagan’s father, who also served in Golani, said Shalev followed in his footsteps and enlisted to the brigade because of him. His family and friends described him as a fan of music and soccer — especially his devotion to Maccabi Haifa — as well as having a love of brain puzzles and riddles.

His mother, Flor Dagan-Reiner, told a local Haifa news outlet that Shalev “had a smile which could conquer the world, he could wipe away all sadness with one little smile. He very much loved this country. He was prepared to sacrifice everything for it.”

Flor said that her son was “a hard-working, charismatic and captivating boy. His friends said that he was the glue of every event. Every time he came home, it was a party for all of his friends. He was the type who would enter a room and fill it with light.”

She said she last spoke to Shalev on Friday evening, the night before he was killed, “as always he made sure to call me and keep me calm. To wish me a Shabbat shalom. He always knew how to raise my mood — even in our last conversation he laughed and made fun of me. Any time I was in hard times he knew how to lift my mood and make me happy.”

His father, Joel, told Haaretz that Shalev was “a very charismatic and talented kid from a very young age. He was successful in school, a gifted athlete, and very beloved socially. Every goal he set for himself he achieved.”

Shalev would have turned 21 on November 15, 2023.

Marking that day, his twin brother, Omer, wrote on social media: “Mazel tov my twin brother, today we are 21.”

“Know that I love you endlessly and beyond. My beloved hero, I am proud of you my brother, you showed me the worth of the last name Dagan,” he continued. “Thank you for always being there for me, for always putting a smile on my face. I always searched for you with my eyes, it did me good to see you happy, and I hope that you are happy now and are celebrating the way only you know how.”

Omer added: “I don’t know how to celebrate without you, this day feels empty. I miss you, my brother, in our nonsense, in everything — since the preemie ward I never left you, and you never left me — 21 years full of you. I promise that I will walk with you forever. I miss you like crazy every single minute.”

Read more Those We Have Lost stories here.

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