Dotan Rousso

In memory of Ofek Rousso: You are gone but you will always be!

I am Dotan Rousso. Ofek’s uncle.

Tuesday evening. October 10, 2023. The phone rings from the other side of the world. My brother’s name appears on the screen. In Israel, it was before dawn. My heart skipped a beat. In a broken and strained voice, filled with the pain of a soul in anguish, Yaniv said, “Ofek was killed.” It was the most bitter and most difficult moment of my life.

Ofek Rousso, a naval commando, was killed on the first night of the war, on October 8th. It was just over a week after celebrating his 21st birthday. On that Saturday, Ofek remained on his base, on call. News of what was happening in the Gaza border communities began to pour in, and he was called with a few other commando fighters to the scenes of death.

Their mission was to save lives. They moved from house to house, room to room, courtyard to courtyard. Few against many, like angels in human form, they came to rescue and save women, children, and the elderly—many dozens of them.

Amid the battles, Ofek was called to help a gravely injured soldier. Under a hail of gunfire and with courage that had no measure, he cared for the wounded soldier.  While his body served as a human shield for the injured, a cluster of shots hit him. He was killed on the spot.

Since that moment of agony, the pain has not yielded. It’s a tangible, physical ache that grips the stomach, the chest, and the entire body. Thoughts of what happened, and what might have been different, if only… if only… if only…

So many have lost their loved ones in the seven months. They are in endless pain. Stories of courage and heroism of young fighters who were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for their homeland.

The people of Israel owe these young people a heavy debt. They rose from a divided and fractured society to fight the enemy and defend their people. Their dedication and courage stand in stark contrast to their leaders’ absolute abandonment. Their stories of heroism and bravery will be told and taught. They will adorn the annals of history, passing from generation to generation.

Our nation has shown its full glory since Ofek’s death. So many have gone far and beyond to help and support. They feel the pain of the parents and sister. They reach out a warm hand. They shed a tear. Yet, the complete absence of government officials and representatives is glaring. Silence. No voice. No sign of life. A complete void.

We want to tell you, Ofek, how much you meant to us. How much we appreciate you. How much we loved you. How much you were a source of admiration—a role model. You had an inner calm, resilience, humility, and modesty beyond compare. Self-discipline. Iron will. Maturity. Kindness. Tenderness and Innocence.

Your life was so short but meaningful and more deserving than the long lives of many. You fulfilled your dreams, lived a meaningful life, were a role model for others, and finally gave your life to save others.

A host of archangels accompany you now, along with your friends and comrades, fighters like you.  The entire nation bows its head, aching, mourning, and embracing all of you.

Ofek, our pain is so difficult to bear. You will remain our beautiful and pure angel, You are gone, but you will always be.

About the Author
Dotan Rousso, Holds a Ph.D. in Law—a former criminal prosecutor in Israel. He currently lives in Alberta and teaches Philosophy at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT).
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