A photographer for a leading Israeli news site captured the moment a soldier and his girlfriend were hugging for the last time just days before the soldier was killed in the exact spot along the Gaza border where the picture was taken.
Yulia Sokolov went to the Gaza border Friday to visit her boyfriend Staff Sgt. Adi Briga, 23, before he was expected to move into Gaza with his Israel Defense Forces unit. They stood in their spot hugging for long minutes. At the same time, Ido Erez, a photographer for Ynet, was waiting to cover a press briefing with a senior IDF commander.
The last time she would ever see him. Sad photo making way across Israeli media this morning. Killed soon thereafter pic.twitter.com/UJKpFmhQqD
— Daniel Gordis (@DanielGordis) July 30, 2014
Before the briefing began, photographer Erez caught sight of the hugging couple and captured the moment.
Briga was killed in a Hamas cross-border mortar attack Monday, just three days after the photo was taken, before he entered Gaza.
Sokolov told Ynet that she hadn’t seen her boyfriend in two weeks before visiting to bring him and his friends food.
“I reached him at the exact place he was killed, and we didn’t do anything except stand and hug for a half hour,” Sokolov said. “I saw photographers taking pictures of us, and I whispered to Adi, ‘Look, we’re like celebrities, we have paparazzi,’ and we both laughed. We just stood and hugged and we didn’t want to do anything else.”
The same photographer was also assigned to cover Briga’s funeral, but at first he didn’t know it was the same soldier he had photographed just days before.
“I get chills thinking about it. He was captured twice by my camera in two different circumstances. Nothing like that has every happened to me in my life,” Erez said.
More photos of Adi Briga on the border and of his funeral can be seen at this photo essay at Israel’s Ynet.
(H/T: Times of Israel)