Those we have lost

Staff Sgt. Yair Nifousy, 20: IDF sniper with ‘incredible charisma’

Killed on November 1 while battling Hamas in the northern Gaza Strip

Staff Sgt. Yair Nifousy (IDF)
Staff Sgt. Yair Nifousy (IDF)

Staff Sgt. Yair Nifousy, 20, a sniper in the Paratroopers Brigade from Adi, died on November 1 from wounds he sustained while fighting in the northern Gaza Strip a day earlier.

His family was told by the IDF that Yair was shot in an accidental friendly fire incident. His parents said they hold no anger toward those involved and are comforted by the fact that he was killed by those who were seeking only to protect the State of Israel.

He was buried on November 2 in Adi, in northern Israel. He is survived by his parents, Iris and Moshe, and his siblings Yuval, Shahar and Yoav.

Family and friends said that Yair was always the life of the party, and had a wide circle of friends. He enjoyed being out in nature and was a dedicated fan of Maccabi Haifa, they said.

On October 7, he was called up to the front lines after being on a weekend break at home. He was sent to battle in Kibbutz Mefalsim and clear the area of Hamas terrorists. Several weeks later, Yair and his comrades were among the first troops to enter Gaza in the ground invasion, and he was killed a day later.

In an interview with Channel 14, his mother, Iris, said that Yair was “like his name,” which means “light up,” and he was born on Hanukkah, the festival of lights.

“He lit up everywhere he went, the house, the family, his friends — a child who was all light, love, joy, a boy who smiled,” she said. “He was a boy with a lot of strength, a lot of joy, was quiet but had incredible charisma.” She said that before he entered Gaza, he was asked what he was afraid of, “and he said, ‘I’m scared to harm innocent people.'”

His father, Moshe, said that his son “loved life — his friends, parties, playing soccer, playing the trumpet, making art.”

Yair’s girlfriend, Roni Kushtai, told a local news outlet that they met two years ago and began dating seriously six months before he was killed, deciding to give it a shot despite the difficulties from them both being in the army.

In the beginning, she said, “I didn’t realize that behind the shy boy was a whole world. And then I fell in love with him because he was sensitive… he was accepting and loving with all his heart,” she said. “When we would sit with all his friends he was always the one who made everything happy and fun.”

Roni said they had plans to fly together to South America to travel once they were both released from the army. Instead, she said, they never even got to celebrate his 21st birthday together, which was marked just three weeks after he was killed.

“I’ll always remember his smile — there isn’t anyone who didn’t mention his smile, I would melt when I saw him,” she said. “You could never say no to that smile. His smile is with me everywhere. His approach to life was so optimistic and happy — I take a lot of strength from that and remember our final moments together when we spoke, our conversations, his hug. With one hug he could make me forget all the troubles in the world.”

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