Towheaded and blue-eyed, Zeevik (Zeev) Etzion, was the eldest of Moshe and Batya’s two children, followed by his younger sister, Smadar. During his early childhood, the family lived in the Tel Aviv suburb of Givatayim. In 1971, they made a major lifestyle change, when they moved to Kibbutz Nirim: the community where he spent the remainder of his childhood, and would call “home,” until his life was tragically, violently cut short by a Hamas mortar, as Operation Protective Edge was screeching to a sudden end late in the summer of 2014.

In 1990, Zeevik married Nava. Together they brought five children into this world; Maayan, twins Omer and Gil, Tal and finally, Neta. Zeevik was a doting and devoted father, husband, brother and son.

In addition to his family life, he dedicated himself to a variety of activities, all of which had the same thread running through them: an element of giving to others. He worked at many different jobs on his kibbutz (depending upon what was needed at the time), including sound man for all of the Kibbutz festivities, and head of security (Ravshatz) during quiet times, as well as periods of escalation. He was a Jack of all trades; in fact, a master of many. As if work weren’t enough, he gave generously of his time. He was an ambulance driver for his community, volunteered for the Magen David Adom (the Israeli chapter of the Red Cross) for 30 years, as well as for the Home Guard (Matmid) patrolling, together with other volunteers, after work hours and late into the nights to safeguard those who live in our region.

Zeevik Etzion z"l

This was how I saw Zeevik – I snapped this picture of him in the middle of the summer of 2014, directly after a rocket attack, when I went to get some pictures of where it had fallen, within our community. When I asked Zeevik, he picked up the end of the mortar and showed it to me. “See? This is what made all the noise.” A house was damaged that day. No one was physically injured. ~APR

As the head of security on Nirim, he helped anyone from his community who was in need. Giving and volunteering were truly an integral part of his being. His sensitivity, determination, ability to take quick decisions, initiatives and action, when needed, served him well. His creativity and love of adventure led him through an interesting life.

Zeevik loved hiking. He accompanied children’s school trips around the country, fulfilling a double role as both medic and escort licensed to carry firearms. On family trips, he was the chief navigator, spicing their journeys with wondrous stories from his army service and post-army travels.

Zeevik was a very patriotic man. He was a patriot of Nirim, his region and his country. He advocated life and people. An incurable optimist, with a well-nurtured beer belly and an infectious laugh, Zeevik was a truly modest man, while at the same time, he had distinct opinions about life around him (and he let these opinions be known). His sense of humor served him well through good times and hard, as did his ever-present “joie de vivre”. Energetic and loyal, he was the kind of person who provided a sense of security and comfort for those around him. He loved people and knew how to take advantage of what life had to offer.

As one who always took his responsibilities seriously, Zeevik was fulfilling his duties when his life was snuffed out. He was accompanying workers from the electric company who had come to Nirim during the fighting to fix the high voltage tower that had been damaged in a barrage from Gaza earlier on the morning of August 26th. It was there that he was killed instantly, in one of the final barrages of Operation Protective Edge, by mortar shrapnel, minutes before the end of the war.

Zeevik Etzion was the quintessential volunteer: the type of person who could never turn anyone away; always willing to lend a helping hand. In the end, it was while fulfilling that role, that he also lost his life. May his memory be entwined in the chain of life.

The preceding was read at a ceremony held by the Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York in Albany, last night. I wrote it at the request of the family, from information provided by them. I am publishing it here with their permission. In the same incident in which Zeevik was killed, he lost another friend — Shachar Melamed. I wrote about Shahar, Zeevik and the amazing one who survived last August.

If you wish to read more about what it is like living on the border with the Gaza Strip, you can follow me on Facebook, join the FB group I moderate: Life on the Border, and “like” The Movement for the Future of the Western Negev.

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