Honoring Sgt. First Class Omer Balva: A Tribute to a Fallen Hero

Hadas Dubrawsky, Im Tirtzu director of international affairs remembers and honors her dear friend who fell in battle for Israel

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Sgt. first class (res.) Omer Balva, a commander in the Golani Brigade, fell in battle in Northern Israel on October 20th, 2023.
Omer and I were high school classmates, and we were two of the five classmates who made Aliyah to serve in the IDF after our graduation.

Over the last five years, we had gone our separate ways, but occasionally checking in with each other – how was training going? When were we getting out of the army, where each would travel after our service…

On the morning of October 7th, I was called to defend the Gaza border communities. Omer was in our hometown, traveling before the semester started. He desperately tried to get on a flight to Israel, to join his soldiers. After flying to Israel, on Tuesday he headed up North to join the fighting. On Saturday morning, the lives of his family and friends changed – Omer’s squad was hit by anti-tank rockets.

When I received the news of his death, I was so angry that the world was not shouting his name. Because that’s who Omer was – he lit up a room, and he lit up the country and how could it be that not everyone knew him?

Omer, I’ve found pictures and videos buried in the archives of my camera roll, and I can only think “what if I knew then what I know now?” When we would sit and talk about the future, how excited and proud we were to make Aliyah and serve our homeland, what would it be like if I knew you wouldn’t live to see 23? That your life would be so cruelly cut short while doing what we spoke of in excitement.

You had so many plans, so many friends, so many people who love you. The only piece of comfort I can find is that you fell doing exactly what you planned. You were using all the love, the pride, and the care for your friends, your family, our home, and our people, and you were protecting us.

I have never been more proud to call you a friend than I am now. I am sorry I missed more than I had, but what I had is worth more than gold. There will always be an Omer-shaped hole in all our hearts.
Hadas Dubrawsky, Im Tirtzu director of international affairs

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