Israel on Thursday mourned Staff Sgt. Dor Chaim Nini, 20, and Maj. Yochai Kalangel, 25, the two soldiers killed in Wednesday’s Hezbollah attack on northern Israel.
Kalangel, a company commander in the Givati Brigade, traveled north from his home near Jerusalem on Tuesday evening, a day after he celebrated his daughter Elinor’s first birthday. Earlier in the week, he and his wife Tali learned that they were expecting their second child. Thousands of people attended his funeral, held Thursday at the military cemetery on Mount Herzl.
Lt. Col. Kobi Barel, the commander of Kalangel’s battalion, said, “We are stunned and pained, and we are having trouble accepting that you are gone. You were always full of faith, and the soldiers under your command followed you blindly. I knew you to be an ambitious officer, and it was clear to all that you would go far.”
Nini’s, whose funeral was held near his home in Shtulim, joined the Givati Brigade in August 2013, and last summer he fought with his comrades in Operation Protective Edge in Gaza. He joined his unit in the north just days before his death, after a brief vacation.
“He was a fighter, he was inside Gaza during Operation Protective Edge, he was never afraid of combat, and he wanted to become an officer,” said Nini’s brother, Aviel. “We were worried, but he always smiled and told us everything would be alright. He was always smiling. Always helping the family.”