Michael Levin (soldier)

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Michael Levin (born February 17, 1984 in Holland, Pennsylvania - died August 1, 2006 in Ayta ash-Shab, Lebanon) was an Israeli soldier who emigrated from the United States and joined the Paratroopers Brigade of the Israel Defense Forces. Levin took part in the first round of fighting in the Lebanese town of Ayta ash-Sha’b during the Second Lebanon War, and was killed in action. His death inspired the creation of a support organization for other immigrant soldiers in Israel, and a memorial to him was built in Jerusalem.

Levin's friend Omer Yaniv, from the same paratrooper unit, gave a graphic description of the chaotic circumstances surrounding Levin’s death. The 890th Paratrooper Battalion came under heavy fire as they advanced into the town. The soldiers could not identify the source of the fire. The battalion’s units got separated when running for cover. Levin’s platoon hid in the back room of an empty store. A Hezbollah fighter managed to get close and fire straight into the small room, hitting Levin in the head. After several hours reinforcements finally reached the building and managed to extract them.[1]

Levin was one of three Israeli soldiers killed in Ayta ash-Sha'b that day. Another 27 soldiers were wounded. For several hours, the Israeli soldiers fought fiercely and killed some 15 Hezbollah fighters, according to the IDF. The wounded were treated at the spot under heavy fire, as an evacuation was deemed almost impossible.[2]

A local commander of Hezbollah after the war guided Al Jazeera though Ayta ash-Sha’b and showed them the store where the paratroopers where holed up, and where Michael Levin was killed.[3]

A memorial for Levin was erected at Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem, the site of a major battle during the Six-Day War.[4]

The Lone Soldier Center in Memory of Michael Levin was created in 2009 by a large group of individuals who had served as lone soldiers in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). The center operates from branches in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa. It provides services to lone soldiers such as help finding housing, organized Sabbath and holiday meals and counseling.

On August 1, 2011, the 5th yarzheit of Michael's passing, a flag was flown over the US Capitol in Michael's memory at the request of a man from Michael's area named Johnson Reynolds to honor him as an Israeli and American hero. Upon receiving the flag from the architect of the Capitol, this man, at the invite of an IDF battalion commander, traveled with several friends to Israel and on September 21, 2011, accompanied by a member of the IDF, they flew that flag over Michael's resting place at Mt. Herzl and presented the flag with a custom made case on June 27, 2012 to his parents, Mark and Harriet Levin with the assistance of Consul General Daniel Kutner of the Israeli consulate of Philadelphia.[5]

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