newsIsrael at War

New Jersey honors US citizen who fell fighting Hamas on Oct. 7

The honor was delivered to IDF Staff Sgt. Itay Glisko's parents at the family home in northern Israel.

IDF Staff Sgt. Itay Glisko was killed fighting Hamas terrorists who had infiltrated his outpost on Oct. 7, 2023. Credit: Courtesy.
IDF Staff Sgt. Itay Glisko was killed fighting Hamas terrorists who had infiltrated his outpost on Oct. 7, 2023. Credit: Courtesy.

“The good ones go first. Itay will stay with us until our last breath,” Oren Glisko, the father of IDF Staff Sgt. Itay Glisko, told JNS on Tuesday. 

Last week, the State of New Jersey honored Itay, 20, an American citizen serving in the IDF’s Golani Brigade who was killed by Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7. 

Sarri Singer, the daughter of state Senator Robert Singer (R-30), delivered the official proclamation in person to the Glisko family’s home in Yokneam in northern Israel.

“This legislature hereby salutes the memory of Itay Ofek Glisko, pays tribute to his valiant service, and extends sincere sympathy and profound condolences to all who mourn his passing,” the proclamation reads.

“Be it further resolved, that a duly authenticated copy of this resolution, signed by the Senate president and the assembly speaker and attested by the Senate secretary and the assembly clerk, be transmitted to the family of Staff Sergeant Itay Ofek Glisko,” it adds.

Oren Glisko said that the proclamation “shows that America cares and shares our grief. As long as we speak about him, he remains somehow alive.”

Itay’s mother, Liat, told JNS that the decision to honor her son raises awareness of those lost in the war.

“The document is a document. But Sarri came, sat with us, cried with us and got to know Itay through us. That’s what’s important. We want the story of Itay and his name to be known all over the United States,” said Liat.

IDF Staff Sgt. Itay Glisko.

Almost 300 IDF soldiers were killed on Oct. 7.  A total of 674 troops have fallen on all fronts since the Hamas-led massacre.

Born in New Jersey in 2003, Itay moved to Israel with his expatriate parents when he was one year old and grew up in Yokneam. A lover of nature, he enjoyed fishing with his father, camping with friends and was part of Shevet Shachar, the local Scouts group. 

“He was one of a kind, the heart and soul of everybody. He is the color we’re all missing in our lives,” said Liat.  

“Always there for everyone, he spoke few words, was very modest, but was a man of action. Throughout his life, just like on October 7, he put everyone else before himself,” she added.

From left: Oren Glisko, Sarri Singer and Liat Glisko in Yokneam as Singer delivered the State of New Jersey’s proclamation honoring fallen soldier Itay Glisko, June 28, 2024. Photo by Sarri Singer.

Itay’s dream was to be drafted into the Golani Brigade like his father before him. He went through a difficult eight months of training before joining the brigade’s 13th Battalion.

“He was so talented as a fighter, someone you wanted next to you as a soldier and as a man. Just holding him gave me strength and reassurance,” said Liat. 

On Oct. 7, Itay, who was supposed to spend the Simchat Torah holiday with his parents and two brothers, Yali, 15, and Ori, 24, filled in for his superior officer, who went on leave.

He was positioned 500 meters from the Gaza border when 3,000 Palestinian terrorists invaded.

“Itay sent us a WhatsApp message at 6:30 a.m. saying, ‘Don’t worry, I’m in a [bomb] shelter.’ We turned on the news, continued texting with him, he said not to worry so we didn’t,” father Oren recounted. 

Terrorists swarmed Itay’s post. An eight-hour fight ensued, during which 12 soldiers were killed. Throughout the battle, Itay, along with the battalion’s medic, evacuated the wounded into the base’s dining room to receive first aid.

“They managed to slow Hamas down and sustained the fighting for hours, but for every soldier there were about five terrorists,” said Oren, who was called to the south for reserve duty on Oct. 7.

“The soldiers were armed but had no access to additional ammunition aside from what they had on them. The rest was stored in a bunker out of reach,” he said.

“At around 2:30 p.m., Hamas terrorists burned the entrance to the dining room to try and suffocate the soldiers who were sheltering inside. Itay and three more troops went out to fight and try to save the others,” he continued.  “At 5 p.m., the army arrived to rescue those who had survived. Seventeen soldiers were saved.”

For four days, Itay’s family did not know what had happened to him. They managed to track his phone, whose GPS location was 20 kilometers away from Itay’s base.

“We hoped. We thought he might have been captured. We went to the south and looked for him. For days, we called everyone, checked every list of kidnapped and missing Israelis, but his name wasn’t there either. We held onto the hope that Itay was strong and a good fighter; nothing could happen to him,” said Liat.

The family reached out to cousins, who alerted American reporters and Sarri Singer to try and help locate Itay. Singer, who survived a bus bombing during the Second Intifada, had created an organization to support victims of terror called Strength To Strength. 

On Oct. 11, the IDF knocked on the Gliskos’ door to inform them that Itay had been killed. 

“Our lives will continue. We have two more children, we are trying to maintain some sort of a routine for them,” said Oren. 

“At the same, we take every opportunity to bring Itay’s name up. We will always speak of him and we will get to the United States to tell his story and perpetuate his memory. Everyone will know how much he helped his country and loved humanity. We will never forget him. He will stay with us until our last breath,” he said. 

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