An Israeli military reservist who was raised in Maryland was killed on Friday when anti-tank missile fire struck his unit near Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, the Israeli military said.
Omer Balva, 22, was among the 360,000 reservists that the Israeli government has mobilized in an immense increase in its military forces ahead of an expected ground invasion of Gaza.
Mr. Balva was a staff sergeant in the 9203rd battalion of the Alexandroni Brigade, according to the Israel Defense Forces.
He moved to Israel after graduating from high school in Rockville, Md., in 2019 and was a student at Reichman University in Herzliya, Israel, where he was studying for a degree in business administration and economics.
Jonathan Missner said his son Ethan had known Mr. Balva since they were both about 6 years old. Mr. Balva, he said, was “only jovial, only smiling,” and made everyone around him laugh, whether he was serving in the military, working or spending time with loved ones.
He said his family had last seen Mr. Balva while he was on vacation in the United States earlier this month.
On Sunday, Mr. Missner and his family watched a livestream of Mr. Balva’s funeral in Israel.
Mr. Balva graduated from the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville, outside Washington, in 2019. The school said in a statement on Instagram that Mr. Balva was “an unabashed advocate for the State of Israel.”
In a 2018 school presentation, Mr. Balva described his family’s long history with Israel and said that his parents had moved to the United States in 1996 for business reasons. He wrote in the presentation that he hoped to move to Israel as an adult and to raise his children there.