Reuven Rivlin spent his first full day as President of Israel visiting families of soldiers killed in action in Gaza, as well as those who were injured.

Rivlin visited with the Ashdod family of fallen soldier Sgt. Ben Itzhak Oanounou, a member of the Golani Brigade who was killed in battle in Shejaiya last Sunday. Rivlin embraced the parents and siblings of Ben, telling them that “Ben symbolized preparedness and the desire to ensure that Israel remains free in its land. The entire nation of Israel is part of the Operation Protective Edge, and we are all looking to our soldiers for succor. The heart of the entire nation is with you,” Rivlin said.

Rivlin also went to Rishon Lezion, where he met with the family of Sgt. Tal Ifrach, a member of the Egoz Unit of the Golani Brigade. He died in a battle in Shejaiya last Monday. Also visiting at the time were members of the Unit. Rivlin told them that they were “our heroes. I see how you, our children, get better with every generation.”

Tal's mother, Aviva, told Rivlin about her son. “We feel that the nation is with Tal,” she tearfully told Rivlin. “Many people from all over the country have come here and we can see how the Jewish people survive thanks to the merit of the soldiers who are protecting us and the nation.”

“It's not easy to comfort a family that has lost a loved one in war,” said Rivlin. “Our soldiers are doing exactly what the organization that employs them – the Israel Defense Forces - says it does.”

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