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Israeli grandfather who fell during active duty in Gaza becomes symbol of selfless sacrifice

Elon with his granddaughter (Photo: Asaf Weiss)

Thousands of Israeli reservists from all walks of life are currently defending the Jewish state against Hamas terrorists in Gaza and Hezbollah terror forces in Lebanon. Last month, IDF reservist Elon Weiss (49) became the first Israeli grandfather to be killed during active duty in Gaza when his tank hit a landmine.

While Jews traditionally observe 7 days of mourning (shiva) after losing close family members or relatives, the mourning period for Weiss coincided with the birthday of his two-year-old granddaughter, Yahav.

"It was a very difficult situation," recalled Weiss' brother Asaf. The family ultimately decided to celebrate Yahav’s second birthday despite the difficult loss of her grandfather.

"In the middle of shiva, while we were still wearing our torn-up clothes, Neta (Weiss' widow) and the children decided that they had to celebrate Yahav's birthday – that despite everything, this little girl deserves a birthday," Asaf said.

Elon with his wife Neta (Photo: Asaf Weiss)

He admitted that the family experienced mixed emotions, simultaneously marking both a sad and a happy family event.

"It is impossible to explain how a family who lost their father, their husband, their grandfather celebrates his granddaughter's birthday. What logical explanation is there for it? It's some kind of supernatural power that revealed itself in a very difficult reality," Asaf shared.

Weiss, a beloved educator at a high school in Ma'ale Adumim, had volunteered to serve in the IDF despite being eligible for exemption from military service due to his age. Asaf described his brother as a person who embraced selfless dedication to his family and country.

Mourners at Elon Weiss' funeral (Photo: Social media)

Just weeks before his death, Weiss had proudly shared his orders to serve in the IDF in Gaza at his daughter Racheli’s wedding. He also inspired and touched the hearts of the IDF soldiers who served with him in Gaza.

They paid their respects by visiting with the family during shiva.

“When they came," Asaf recalled, "they were all telling me ‘Asaf, listen, to see your brother crawling underneath the tank, covered in mud and dust at the age of 49 – it left no choice for us, the younger soldiers. If he does it, how could we not?’" 

He added: “They say that while Elon was almost 50, he was practically a 20-year-old boy when it came to acting in the field.” 

Asaf recalled how their father had urged Weiss to stay home with his family instead of serving in the dangerous battle zones in Gaza.

“He told our father that he was the one who taught us to think of the State of Israel before anything else," Asaf shared.

“He's not angry with the military," Asaf said of his father, "but it's hard for him to accept that an almost 50-year-old man had to fight in active combat. It is difficult for him to accept.”

Asaf said his brother inspired the lives of many people.

“What really caught me off guard during the shiva, was that not only his students came to mourn with us, but their parents, too. I asked myself, 'Why would a mother come to comfort the family of her son's teacher?' It sounded strange to me. So, I spoke to one of those who came. She told me, 'Listen, Asaf, your brother, saved my two children.'”

Read more: GAZA WAR

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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