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Gil’s Smile of Joy

Genadi was only 17 years old when he decided to immigrate to Israel from far-off Russia. It is not at all easy to immigrate alone to another country at such a young age, but Genadi was determined. He joined the 'Naale' project and enlisted in the army. Eight years later, his brother Yotam joined him and their parents followed six years ago.

During his military service he completed his conversion to Judaism, and was looking to choose a new name. An Israeli name. "What do you say," Genadi asked his friends, "which Hebrew name would suit me?"

Taking into account his lively, happy personality, his friends unanimously agreed; Genadi will be called "Gil", the Hebrew word for joy.

Based on his medical tests, Gil was not required to serve in a combat unit. But he didn't give up. He enlisted in the armoured corps and was an excellent soldier; a warrior at heart and a man who above all took care of his friends.

15 years ago, Gil underwent a serious medical event, and the army informed him that he would no longer be required to report for reserve duty. They told him to rest and take care of his health. But Gil did not give up.

He remained in the brigade and fought in the Second Lebanon War, Tzuk Eitan and other military operations, both in Israel’s northern region, and in Gaza.

Even when he got sick, Gil wanted to continue contributing to Israel with the same endless commitment and devotion. His friends from the unit say that he always took care of everyone, protected and guarded them before taking care of himself.

Any time there was a need to step out of the tank to get tools or fix something, he immediately jumped in and volunteered.

In the last battle of his life, Gil was part of a long armoured column in the dangerous neighbourhoods of northern Gaza. Together with the Givati Brigade, they waged a fierce battle over the Hamas headquarters in the neighbourhood.

The fighting around the headquarters was difficult. Heavy rounds of fire were directed at the vehicles every few minutes. They had to leave the protection of the tank to get a certain tool. The commander explained the situation and Gil immediately shouted and volunteered. "I'm going! You have wives and children!" he said to his friends.

When he climbed out of the tank, Gil was shot and killed.

The friends who were with him said that even when he died he had a smile on his face. A smile of joy.


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