The Late Lieutenant Ariel Eliezer Buda
Ariel was born on June 25, 1984 at the Hakirya Hospital in Tel Aviv. He was the third of four children in the family – the others being two brothers, Inon and Lior, and a sister Dikla. Ariel was named after his great-grandfather on his mother’s side, Leo (Eliezer Leiser) who perished in the Holocaust along with most of the rest of his family.
After completing six years of elementary school in Tel Aviv, Ariel continued on to the Bar Ilan High School in the city, where he received his high school diploma. Ever since childhood he had always been very athletic and played an active part in basketball and football games. Ariel was a member - and later guide – of the Bnei Akiva Zionist youth movement in Tel Aviv. He remained active there for seven years and is mentioned in the organization’s Most Admired directory. As a student in high school, Ariel also volunteered for the civil guard.
After graduation from high school, Ariel began his studies at the Ma'aleh Ephraim Academy in preparation for his military service. He was deemed to be highly motivated and extremely qualified for combat service.
Ariel was drafted to the Israel Defense Forces at the end of March 2003. He met all of the difficult challenges he faced with an unbroken chain of successes and achievements…. until everything was halted in its tracks by his untimely death. He first underwent basic training starting as a Mark III Merkava tank loader in the Armored Corps (Division 188) and then went on to advanced training with the 53rd battalion - the Soofa-battalion. He then went to the Tank Commander Course held at the Shizafon Army Base (in the southern part of the country) on completion of which he was appointed commander of a squad of new recruits. He was accepted into the Armored Commander School for officers. After graduating from a Land Forces Officers' Course, he went on to an Intelligence Officers' Course. On the completion of this course Ariel was in line to receive the rank of Second Lieutenant.
On Friday, January 7, 2005, while he was in a car en route to a weekend mature preparatory course in the Ma"aleh Ephraim Academy, Ariel was fatally injured by gun fire from terrorists who were hiding in ambush near the Tapuah intersection in Samaria, not far from the town of Migdalim. He was in the car together with his three roommates from Room No. 7 from the pre-military academy Ma’aleh Ephraim. His friend Sergeant Yossi Atia was killed instantly, and both of his other friends sustained minor injuries.
After sustaining a critical head injury, Ariel was taken to the Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva and operated on immediately. Surgeons worked for many hours to save his life. Indeed, after three weeks, there was such a clear improvement in his medical condition that Ariel was transferred to the Beit Loewenstein-Rehabilitation Center. He even improved to the point where he could joke and laugh about his injuries. However, his recovery did not last long and Ariel returned to hospital. He was transferred to several hospitals over the following nine months: The Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva, the Loewenstein Hospital in Ra'anana, the Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv and the Sheba-Tel Hashomer Hospital in Ramat Gan. During these hospitalizations he underwent twenty difficult and complex neurosurgical operations. Before dawn on Saturday, October 15, 2005, Ariel died as a result of complications of his wounds.
Ariel was twenty-one when he fell. He was buried in the military cemetery in Kiryat Shaul. He was survived by his parents, two brothers and a sister.
Family members say that Ariel endured his pain with a sensitive heart and with love for family and others. His family was very important to him. When he came back from the army on Fridays, the first thing he did was to visit his mother at work and immediately afterwards to visit the home of his beloved grandmother Aviva. He often grilled the family barbecue and despite being exhausted, would buy the ingredients needed to cut up and make a salad for everyone. Ariel went further and took advantage of the hours before the Sabbath to help volunteers of the “Good Neighbor”-association by taking them to several distribution stations where meals and food were provided to the poor. This activity continues to this day to help perpetuate Ariel’s good deeds.
Family and army were uppermost in his mind. He was proud to serve in the Israel Defense Forces and wear the uniform. He shared his interesting experiences and the information he acquired in his military courses. Giving love was ingrained. He always made sure to help, encourage and support his fellow soldiers who had encountered problems during their military service.
Ariel developed a keen social consciousness and was alert to every hint of discrimination based on ethnic or social origin. While a cadet commander he even wrote an article for officers on what he saw as injustices in the distribution of military salaries. Ariel gave a lot of support to new immigrants, soldiers, Druze and other minorities. His friends represented all sectors of the population in the country; many of them, including those he knew during his military service, visited and accompanied him during his long and painful hospitalizations.
Ariel was charismatic, very friendly and sociable. His comportment, courtesy and manners were obvious to all. He loved to laugh and to entertain. Many people opened their hearts to him.
In the little free time that was available to him in the army he loved reading books: thrillers, novels, books of military history and biographies of leaders and senior military officials. He loved Israel, traveling the length and breadth of country. He especially enjoyed songs about and from Israel.
After his military service Ariel had planned to hike in New Zealand and Australia for several months. He then intended to study veterinary medicine. He had a great love for animals, especially dogs. Unfortunately he was never given a chance to realize those dreams.
A year after Ariel’s death, his father, Shlomo, died prematurely as a result of a serious illness. He was buried in the Kiryat Shaul cemetery, not far from where Ariel now rests.
Ariel left behind many friends and family who grieve his loss with great pain and sorrow.
He left a void which will never be filled.