Gabi was born on February 3rd. 1988, in Rehovot, Israel, where he spent most of his life, including nursery and school. His family included his parents, Fanya and Gil, his sister Ayelet, and his brother Ben.
NATURE & TRAVEL
Gabi's family placed emphasis on the love of nature, travel and country. Even at an early age, perched in a baby-seat on a parent's back, he toured both within Israel and abroad.
As soon as he was walking on his own, Gabi became an enthusiastic participant in the weekend hiking group his family belonged to. Later he joined a biking-nature-tour group as well as a youth movement devoted to hiking in Israel.
While growing up, Gabi joined his family on trips around the word, visiting England and Scotland the USA (coast-to-coast), Italy and France, Croatia, Kenya, Thailand, Ireland and Finland His interest in both nature and people bloomed and flowered during these trips
As a child, Gabi was always curious, hungry to learn more, a quick learner with an outstanding memory, getting good grades even though he spent little time on schoolwork. His interests lay mainly in the sciences: mathematics and physics. He participated in after-school activities on these subjects both at school and at the Weizmann Institute of Science.
From age 6, Gabi took after-school martial arts classes. He practiced Meijin Kai (a holistic martial art using the most efficient technique for all facets of fighting). He advanced to a level where he was coaching younger students of the technique as well as working on his own proficiency. He earned his black belt just before joining the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces).
Gabi's study of martial arts helped him develop important skills, both physical (agility, coordination, fitness) and mental (ability to focus, self-restraint, a giving attitude). Alongside these, there were competitiveness and an ambition for excellence. Gabi participated in competitions such as national championships, frequently achieving first or second place.
The family's pets were probably the basis for Gabi's love of animals. At 11, he began working as a dogsitter for neighbors.
Gabi loved music, too. As a child, he played a small organ, and later learned guitar.
Gabi loved challenges. This quality, together with his excellent physical fitness and love of sport, found expression in another pastime: extreme sports. He scaled cliffs and climbing walls, went snappling, diving and bungee-jumping. He requested (and got) a surfing kite for his birthday, using it before his trip to Asia. In Nepal, he experienced – and loved – river kayaking.
But above all else, Gabi was a social person, always spending much time – sometimes most of his day – with friends. Early on, he and several of his classmates (including Ofer) became a tight-knit, lively, mischievous group, enjoying each others' company throughout their school years. After graduating high-school, they took a pre-army vacation together in Finland.
ARMY SERVICE & BEYOND
In August, 2006, Gabi became a member of an elite unit of the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces). He completed full, active combat service, part of which was during Operation Cast Lead in 2008. Those who served with him speak of his sense of responsibility, his leadership, professionalism and determination.
During the year after his release from the army, Gabi decided to save up for a backpacking trip abroad, as many Israelis tend to do after at least 15 years of regulated frameworks (school and army service). Because he had a knack for technology, whatever that technology was, he chose to work in a mechanical workshop, learning the secrets of mechanics . Within a short period of time, the workshop manager was assigning him tasks usually reserved for far more experienced mechanics.
In May, 2010, Gabi set off on a trip to eastern Asia. He flew to Beijing and then spent two months in Mongolia and several months in China, where he learned enough of the language to carry on conversations with people he met. Another two months were spent in Nepal before departing for New Zealand.
During the trip Gabi matured, changed by his experiences along the way and by the vast range of books he read while traveling. People who had known him before and met him during the trip noted how level-headed he had become, how he had a new clarity in his understanding of various aspects of life.
A few short days before his scheduled departure from New Zealand, there was an earthquake in the city of Christchurch, cutting short the lives of many. Gabi and his childhood friend Ofer were in the city at the time.
Suddenly the news in Israel was talking about the earthquake in New Zealand. Gabi didn't call, but that seemed natural enough at first. Perhaps he wasn't in Christchurch after all, and even if he was, he'd consider the family hysterical for even worrying: "Don't you know you can trust me to take care of myself?" Ofer hadn't contacted his family either. The hours passed, and alternative scenarios came to mind: Gabi and Ofer might be busy helping find survivors, and simply didn't have time to call.
Gradually, these scenarios were replaced by fear, which mounted as each minute and each hour passed without word from Gabi.
After 48 hours, the Foreign Office still considered Gabi and Ofer "disconnected", despite the fact that communication with New Zealand had never been as intense as during this dark time. The family and close friends used every means possible to move New Zealand's dinosaur bureaucracy so that Gabi and Ofer would be sought among the ruins of fallen buildings. Eventually, confirmation came from people who had met them half an hour before the earthquake: They had indeed been together and in the most affected area.
The families sent a search-and-rescue team from Israel to New Zealand, and a second team was sent by Ofer's insurance company. Time marched relentlessly on with no new information, and the families continued efforts to garner support for the search, including a meeting with Prime Minister Natenyahu, who tried to assist in communicating with the Prime Minister of New Zealand.
After six long, excruciating days, filled with alternating moments of hope and despair, the worst news arrived. Gabi and Ofer had found death while strolling along the main street in Christchurch. The façade of a building had simply crashed down on top of them, killing both instantly.
The earthquake of February 22, 2011 in New Zealand shook our world, thousands of kilometers away. As a family, that geological rift became a daily reality in our lives. We feel its tremors in every bone, in every heart beat and in every cell of our bodies. It shakes us to our core, leaving us with the indescribable loss of our beloved Gabi.
This site will be updated from time to time with text about additional aspects of Gabi's life, adding more color and music – keeping his memory alive, not allowing it to simply gather dust on a virtual shelf.
Please send any reactions, material, etc. to gabi.ingel.website on gmail.com