Israeli Officer Killed in Hezbollah Strike Remembered as 'Father' to His Soldiers

Yochai Kalangel’s comrades risked their lives to protect his body from abduction, says his commander in eulogy; funeral of Staff Sgt. Dor Chaim Nini to take place Thursday afternoon.

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IDF soldiers attend the funeral of Maj. Yochai Kalangel, who was killed by a Hezbollah anti-tank missile in Israel's north, January 29, 2015. Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

The funeral of Maj. Yochai Kalangel, killed Wednesday by a Hezbollah anti-tank missile near Har Dov in Israel's north, took place Thursday in the military cemetery on Jerusalem’s Mt. Herzl. Kalangel, 25, was a company commander in the Tzabar Battalion of the Givati infantry brigade, and lived in the Har Gilo settlement just south of Jerusalem.

Battalion commander Lt. Col. Kobi Barel said in his eulogy, “Yesterday, when our force was under massive missile attack, there was a real threat of abduction. I saw your comrades, the company commanders at your side in the incident, who were willing to sacrifice their lives for you. They protected your body with their own bodies under hellish fire to prevent your possible abduction by the enemy.

“You were the leading company commander in the battalion and your opinion on everything was important to me personally,” Barel said. “Your soldiers say you always were a beloved leader and commander for them. I saw how they followed you blindly. You served as a father for them and acted as if they were your children.”

Kalangel was the second of six children in his family. His parents, Yossi and Malka, live in Elazar in Gush Etzion. He was married to Tali, who grew up in the nearby community of Efrat. The couple had a baby daughter who celebrated her first birthday a few days ago.

Last May, Kalangel was chosen as an outstanding soldier and received a commendation from the IDF chief of staff at the annual ceremony at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem.

Dor Chaim Nini, left, Yochai Kalangel, right.

The funeral of Staff Sgt. Dor Chaim Nini, the other soldier killed in Wednesday’s attack, was to be held Thursday at 3:00 P.M. at Moshav Shtulim, where he lived. Nini, 20, was the youngest of three sons of his parents Sima and Nehemia. He served in the most veteran company in the Tzabar battalion and fought during last summer’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza. His mother is a preschool teacher and his father a farmer, and he grew up on the moshav in the Be’er Tuvia region.