entrance to Kibbutz Be'eri
entrance to Kibbutz Be'eriYossi Zamir/Flash90

Haim Ben Aryeh, a bus driver beloved to the children of Gush Katif and the Lachish Regional Council as "Haim the driver", was found dead.

Ben Arye was witness to the scenes of devastation in southern Israel on the morning of Simchat Torah, October 7, when he came to rescue the children of Kibbutz Be'eri.

Menashe Azel, an acquaintance of Ben Aryeh, eulogized him: "Haim Ben Aryeh was one of those who accepted me into the reserves 25 years ago. He was a dear friend and a nice man. The events of the Disengagement that he experienced himself, and the evacuation of the survivors from Be'eri hurt him in his soul and his heart could not stand such great pain. Don't remain alone, share with others what you are going through and together we will face it."

Another acquaintance, Shuki Shomron, said that Ben Aryeh was great with children. "He loved children with all his heart. He asked for all the children of the settlement to come to his wedding. He begged the parents to come with their children."

He said that Ben Aryeh was always among the first people to arrive in the synagogue each morning.

"We were together after the terrible expulsion from [Gush] Katif at the Kfar Pines Ulpana, and from there we temporarily split up. Most of the time was spent at the hotel and later at the resort village in Ashkelon. We were eight families, including Haim and Irit, and we were then in a caravan site in Netivot. We had very difficult conditions, but we went through a unifying and strengthening experience," Shomron said.

"His heart began to break after the murder of the Hatuel family and continued to break after the deportation. But he remained happy. Always happy but with a broken heart. Haim drove families and children from Kibbutz Be'eri and his heart broke again, he saw such horrible sights and his heart cracked and broke into pieces. He had such a sensitive soul that couldn't bear this pain.

"And I, instead of crying, was assigned a difficult task, digging the grave. Together with a friend and later other friends who came to help, we engaged in a job we never dreamed of engaging in: To dig a grave for a friend", Shomron described.

He added: "And when they brought me the bag with the equipment he had on the bus, they asked me to look for his identity card. I didn't find the card there, but I did find a complete beit midrash. Many holy books, the Humash, the Bible, Mishna, Gemara and much more."

Shomron concluded his eulogy by calling Ben Aryeh "another victim of the war."