Lone soldiers’ parents being brought to Israel for holiday visits

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The parents of 77 lone soldiers in Israel who fought in the recent Gaza operation are being brought to Israel to spend the High Holidays with their children.

El Al airlines will be flying in 125 parents from 10 cities in North America and Europe. The families also will receive five free days in hotels that belong to the Israel Hotel Association.

The first flight, from Moscow, is scheduled to arrive on Thursday.

“We initiated this special project for family reunification in Israel to celebrate the New Year; to allow soldiers to get a hug from their parents, close the circle and open up new opportunities,” David Maimon, the CEO of El Al, said in a statement.

“The lone soldiers are not alone,” said Avigdor Kahalani, the head of the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel’s Soldiers, which co-organized the project.

Three lone soldiers, all staff sergeants, were killed in action during Operation Protective Edge: Max Steinberg of California, Nissim Sean Carmeli of Texas and Jordan Bensemhoun of Lyon, France.