A Cousin Pays Tribute to His Bunkmate, Who Fell in Gaza

IDF Sergeant Ben Kobani, 20, who was killed Wednesday in Gaza, fought the army to get to serve in Golani.

The parents of the Israel Defense Forces soldier who was killed in action yesterday in the Gaza Strip did not wish to speak with the media. Instead, Margalit and Rahamim Kubany grieved in private in their Hadera home for Ben, who died at the age of 20.

As news of his death spread, dozens of friends and family gathered at the family home to comfort his parents and Ben's 17-year-old brother and 27-year-old sister, Ido and Sarit. Ben's friends from the Golani Brigade also came.

"He would laugh a lot and make others laugh in his own special way," Ben's cousin, Shlomi Tzubri, said. Shlomi served with Ben in the same platoon. The two cousins shared a bunk bed. "It's weird for me. It's hard to understand," he said.

Ben's friend, Yehiel Gayda, said: "Ben had presence. Wherever he went, people would know that he was there. He was that sort of guy, people always knew he was there."

Tzubri said Ben was supposed to enlist to the IDF engineering corps before he entered the ranks of the famous infantry brigade. "He wouldn't go anywhere but Golani. When they told him to get on the bus for combat engineering at the initial induction base in Tel Hashomer, he just said no. Disobeyed the order. They sent him to detention, but he wouldn't give it up. He wanted Golani."

Eventually, the army gave in and gave Ben his wish. He was sent to Golani's basic training base, until he became a regular combat soldier.

"We served together in Lebanon last year," Shlomi said, referring to the Second Lebanon War. "We served on Mount Hermon together and eight months ago we came to Gaza."

Shlomi said that service in Golani was not easy on Ben. "Things aren't easy in Golani. But his positive attitude always kept him afloat. He was friends with everybody, and that togetherness kept him from quitting."

Ben Kubany will be laid to rest today at 4 P.M. at Hadera's military cemetery.

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