'Father of lone soldiers' passes away

Tzvika Levy, an Israel Prize winner and legendary advocate for IDF soldiers passes away at 70.

Tzvi Lev ,

Tzvika Levy with Prime Minister Netanyahu
Tzvika Levy with Prime Minister Netanyahu
Haim Tzach, GPO

Tzvika Levy, an Israel Prize winner and legendary advocate for IDF, passed away from ALS on Saturday. He was 70.

Lone soldiers are a term used for the 6,000 IDF soldiers in their mandatory service who do not live with their parents. For over 30 years, Levy advocated tirelessly for lone soldiers an launched the Lone Soldier Center in 1997 to streamline his activities.

Levy was awarded the Israel Prize by Education Minister Naftali Bennett in 2007 for his life's work. Upon announcing the award, Bennett said that "Levy is one of the finest sons our country has produced - a Zionist role model, but above all a father to thousands of isolated soldiers who found in him an address [to turn to], while he was father, mother, listener, friend, and brother for them".

However, Levy's volunteer work took a big hit when he was diagnosed with ALS in 2016, a muscular decisive that caused his strength to slowly ebb away.

Outgoing IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot and his incoming replacement General Aviv Kochavi said in a statement that the "IDF bows its head" to Levy for his tireless efforts on behalf of IDF soldiers.

"For decades, Zvika fought for the few soldiers - encouraged their immigration to Israel and arranged for them home and adoptive families," said the statement. "The IDF bows its head in the death of Zvika Levy, a dear and benevolent man, and shares the sorrow of his wife Naomi and his children."