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'She Had Waited Her Whole Life'

Lt. Hila Bezaleli, killed in the Mt. Herzl lighting collapse, had been preparing for the Mt. Herzl ceremony since childhood
By Gabe Kahn
First Publish: 4/24/2012, 5:07 PM

סג"מ הילה בצלאלי
סג"מ הילה בצלאלי
דו"צ

The boyfriend of IDF lieutenant Hila Betzaleli, who was killed in the lighting collapse on Mount Herzl last week, said Monday he would not soon recover from the loss.

"It's not something I will recover from in the near future," Matan Nissanov told Army Radio. "There are many people coming to see us and it is difficult for the feelings to settle."

"We started talking and it began," Nissimov said of his relationship with Betzaleli. "What caught my eye? Her smile, her sardonic humor... she was laughing the whole time. We were together only a few months, but they were wonderful months."

Nassinov also said he did not want Betzaleli to attend the Mount Herzl ceremony for Independence Day.

"I didn't want her to go," he said. "It was three very difficult months of rehearsals. During rehearsals she was updating me all the time, and would tell me how hard she was working."

But "she was very excited, and had been since she was a child, to be in this ceremony. She was very dedicated. She had waited her whole life for it," he said.

"That day I was not at the division but at an in-service with the IDF spokesman's office," Nassinov said of the day of Betzaleli's death.  "During one of the lessons I received a teleconference request from my father. I asked if it was urgent, but he told me it was not and that he loves me and sends me a hug."

"I didn't know what he meant... why he was saying it. I told him the same thing back," he said of his father's call, which came as the news of the lighting collapse first emerged.

"Then [later] my father asked me to call him," Nassinov said, adding that it was then that he began to understand the magnitude of the disaster. "I realized something had happened to Hila."

"I had numerous missed calls from her from earlier in the day," he said. "I checked my email, personal and military, and found nothing. I called her immediately, but she didn't answer. I thought it was because everyone else who loved her was calling to make sure she was okay."

Nassinov said the details of what went wrong or who is at fault does not interest him in his present stage of grief.

"These are minor details for me right now," he said. "Right now I am moving slowly, taking baby steps. I have to go through tonight, and then get up in the morning."