News and Events

Israeli Memorial Day: Giving Tribute to Those Lost Then and Now

Publication Date: 5/13/2024 9:00 AM

Father, husband, battalion commander, hotel chef: There were many beautiful things about the life of reservist Lieutenant Colonel Netanel (Nati) Elkouby z”l. On the eve of this year’s Memorial Day, Nati’s widow, Sarit from the Rheumatology Institute at Rambam, reflects on her husband’s enduring legacy.

Lt. Col. (reserves) Netanel Elkouby, z"l. Photography: Courtesy of the Elkouby family.
Lt. Col. (reserves) Netanel Elkouby, z"l. Photography: Courtesy of the Elkouby family.

It has been exactly three months since the late Lt. Col. Netanel Elkouby (36) from Haifa fell in combat in Gaza. As the commander of the 630th Reserve Battalion, he valiantly served on the frontlines from that fateful Saturday of October 7 until being killed in battle four months later. He was one of those immediately called up for duty and within an hour of the Hamas attack, his entire battalion was mobilized.

The late Lt. Col. Elkouby left behind a wife, Sarit, and five children: Enhal (11), Avishag (10), Talia (7), and twins – Aviad and Avitar (3 and a half). Sarit, assistant secretary in the Rheumatology Institute of Rambam Health Care Campus (Rambam) in Haifa, Israel, recounted the events of February 12, 2024 –the day her husband fell. “Nati was killed the same day he was supposed to be released home,” she recalls. After he and two of his soldiers entered a bobby-trapped building, which exploded, Nati was killed instantly, though his injuries were completely internal.

Lt. Col. Elkouby's friends and fellow soldiers all speak of his resourcefulness, leadership, bravery, and demeanor during wartime. However, behind the fighter and leader, was a father and husband. Sarit recalls, “Our home and our children were always first in his thoughts. He was constantly tending to the children and their needs. The most important thing to him was spending time with them, being a father – really being a father – teaching them to fulfill their dreams, to take care of themselves, and to be good people.”

Three months after his death, Sari Elkouby succinctly summarizes the legacy he left behind for her, their children, all his acquaintances and loved ones, and for all the citizens of Israel as well. She concludes, “I know that, as in his own life, he would want us to live – to truly live – especially after this tragedy, after such a great loss. My hope is that I will be able to raise our children with joy and recognition of this great privilege: that he was their father, my husband, and it is thanks to him we are here.”

On Memorial Day, Rambam honors the 73 staff and their family members who perished in Israel's conflicts and terrorist attacks. With deep sorrow three additional heroes, all lost in the last year’s Swords of Iron War, were added to Rambam's registry of the fallen:

  • The late Corporal Alexei Shmeklov (34), an inspector in the Israeli police counter-terrorism unit, son of Yelena Shmeklov, a nurse in the Department of Surgery at Rambam. Schmeklov fell on October 7 in the battle for the Sderot police station.
  • Sgt. First Class Adi Eldor (21) of the Maglan unit, fell on February 11, 2024, in the battle in Khan Yunis. His father, Dr. Liron Eldor, is a physician in the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Rambam. He is also the grandson of gynecologist Professor Yosef Itzkowitz-Eldor who worked at Rambam and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, and was a pioneer in fertility medicine and stem cell research in Israel.
  • Lt. Col. Netanel Yaakov Elkouby (36). His wife, Sarit, in the Rheumatology Institute at Rambam. His late mother, Miriam Elkouby z”l, worked for 41 years as head nurse in the recovery department at Rambam.

Click below to watch Sarit Elkouby share about her husband’s life
as a soldier, chef, husband, and father.