Rivlin at Ben Yigal family home
Rivlin at Ben Yigal family homeMark Neyman, GPO

President Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin today, Sunday, paid a condolence call on the family home of Staff Sergeant Amit Ben Yigal in Ramat Gan. Amit was killed while on operational duty in Kfar Yabed on Tuesday May 12. The president was accompanied on his visit by chairman of Yad Labanim Eli Ben-Shem.

“I know that this is something that no-one wishes is said about their son, that he has become a symbol,” said the president, with emotion in his voice, to Baruch and Nava, the parents of Amit, “but you should know that you have all taken a place in our hearts, and Amit will remain a symbol for us. A symbol of someone who gave his all for our country.”

The president heard Baruch talk about his son Amit: “I was with him for so many ceremonies, and at Har Herzl where he told me, ‘Dad, I’m going to be an outstanding soldier at the ceremony at Beit HaNasi’, and who would have believed that you, Mr President, are here to comfort us on his passing.” Baruch showed him a picture of Amit with the president at an event together.

“How I wish I could have come to your celebrations, to his wedding,” said the president to the family, “but I am here today and I can only tell you that I feel the enormity of your loss, the strength of your pride and the depth of your pain. In our country, unfortunately, they often go together.”

“There is no consolation, I know. I have seen pictures and videos of Amit, as have so many Israelis, and I immediately understood the enormity of the loss of our heroic soldier. I saw his ability and his conduct, I heard what his friends said about him and my heart was broken. Generation after generation we send the very best we have to serve the state. Every time, we say what will happen to the next generation? And every time, we find that the next generation of young people is even better. Such devotion. Such desire to be part of the success of our country. I am so proud to be president of a country that has parents like you, families like you.”

Amit’s parents told the president of his educational achievements and what the commander of the Golani infantry brigade said about his heroism. “When he told me that Amit died a hero’s death, I got up and went to his wardrobe, hugged his clothes and told him that his commander had visited and said he was a hero. And now, who would have believed that you, the president, would tell me my son is a hero?” said Baruch, his father, adding “Mr. President, the hug we are receiving from the Israeli people is not something straightforward. It comes from all parts of society. We have a wonderful people, a people to be proud of. I have no other country and the love here, from all kinds of people, makes me ask myself if this is really happening. From all across the country.”

The president told Baruch that everyone he meets because of the death of Amit can tell what kind of an educator he is, and that every story of who Amit was tells that he grew up with the strongest and deepest values, which also gave him the strength to be the man he was. “You make educators proud,” said the president to Baruch.

(Credit: Mark Neyman, GPO)