Sergeant Noam Belachsan was 18 months old when her father, Major Eitan Belachsan, was killed while leading his paratroopers unit on an operation in Lebanon; ‘I have missed him in so many stages of my life, especially when I received a certificate of merit as an outstanding soldier. I just wanted him there next to me,’ she says.

Sergeant Noam Belachsan, 20, will be discharged from the IDF in about three months. Belachsan, who serves as a commander in the Navy’s simulators unit, can’t wait for her trip to the magical beaches of Thailand.

Completing her military service symbolizes another milestone she can take pride in. But as in the other important and joyful events in her life, she won’t have her father by her side to embrace or encourage her.

Noam Belachsan. 'I have no brothers or sisters to share my pain with' (Photo: Elad Gershgoren)
Noam Belachsan. ‘I have no brothers or sisters to share my pain with’ (Photo: Elad Gershgoren)


In February 1999, when Noam was just 18 months old, her father, Major Eitan Belachsan, was killed while leading his paratroopers unit on an operational activity against Hezbollah cells in southern Lebanon. The force he commanded was ambushed by terrorists. An engineering officer, First Lieutenant Liraz (Raz) Tito, and a team commander, First Lieutenant David-Yaakov Granit, were also killed in the battle.

Eitan was 30 years old. He was survived by his wife Raya, his daughter Noam, his parents, his two brothers and his sister.

Noam was aware of the heavy disaster that had struck her family from a very young age. “When I was three or four years old, and the kindergarten children would ask me where my father was, I would reply: ‘My father is dead,’” she says.

Memorial Day schedule 2018
Memorial Day schedule 2018


“I quickly realized that was my reality. I have missed my father in many stages of my life—during birthdays, at my bat mitzvah, in school, and primarily during last year’s ceremony for outstanding soldiers. As I stood on the stage and received the certificate of merit, I missed my father—who had also received a certificate of merit from the chief of staff—so much. I wanted him there, standing on the stage beside me for a few minutes, taking pictures of me. It’s a shame he couldn’t see me at that moment.”

Noam felt she had come full circle at the outstanding soldiers’ ceremonies. Her father, who was a highly esteemed officer, had received the certificate of merit, and now his daughter, who didn’t get to know him, is receiving a certificate proving that “like father, like daughter.”

“Both me and my mother feel the great loss,” she says painfully. “Everyone spoke about my father and many people admired him both as a commander and officer and as a person who combined values of giving and helping. I’m the only one who didn’t know him at all. There are many moments when I feel I really missed out.”

Noam with her father before his death. 'I'm sure he's proud of me'
Noam with her father before his death. ‘I’m sure he’s proud of me’


Despite her father’s absence, Noam feels he is always there. “Dad is with me every single minute, wherever I go. I am certain he would have been happy to see me and would have definitely been proud of the path I have taken and of the choices I have made as a commander and in general. Sometimes, when things get tough or when I ponder what to do, I ask Mother: ‘What would dad say? What should I do?’”

Now, on Memorial Day and during the ceremonies, the yearning is even stronger. “I have no brothers or sisters to share my pain with,” Noam explains. “My mother and I hurt and comfort each other. On Memorial Day, I think about all the bereaved families that have lost their loved ones.

“The most difficult day is the day of dad’s memorial service. I practically break down there. Every year, we hold a ‘leadership’ conference in his memory at the Tel-Hai College, and many officers and commanders arrive and talk about him. And I never even got to hug him for a second. I never got to say, ‘Thank you, dad,’ or ‘I love you.’ I miss something that I never had.”

Despite the bereavement, Noam’s mother succeeded in directing her daughter towards promising paths. “Every day, I thank my mum for the motto she gave me, that we must keep living and enjoying ourselves. Mom is worthy of admiration and appreciation. She is bigger than life, and the place I am in today is largely thanks to her.”

As Noam keeps talking about Eitan, she is suddenly faced with the horrible realization that in a few years from now, she will reach the age iat which her father’s life was snatched from her. She wipes away the years, tries to convey a sense of business as usual, and then breaks down and takes a few minutes to calm down.

“Sometimes it’s so difficult not to have known my father, but I’m following in his footsteps—leading, commanding, excelling, succeeding. I’m sure he’s proud of me now. Now let’s go to the beach.”

As reported by Ynetnews