It’s a tradition to travel the world once an IDF (Zahal) soldier is released from his or her service, after years of dedication defending the State of Israel. Staff Sgt. Matan Gotlib fell during Operation Protective Edge, three months before he could fulfill his dream and begin his travels. His friends chose to commemorate him by completing a journey in his memory.
Staff Sgt. Matan Gotlib
Staff Sgt. Matan Gotlib was a combat soldier in Maglan, an elite IDF (Zahal) unit. During Operation Protective Edge, Matan was killed along with two other soldiers in a booby-trapped building. After his death, Matan’s friends and family came up with a creative way to fulfill his last dream: traveling the world. They designed a sticker, and decided to place it in all of the places they would visit.
The words on the sticker, “Peace ya man,” were written by Matan at the end of a message he sent a friend during the operation. The friend, a combat soldier in the Paratroopers Brigade who had also been fighting in Gaza, only saw the message after Matan had been killed.
A sticker of fallen IDF (Zahal) soldier Matan Gotlib in Canada
“It was clear to us that we had to commemorate Matan and take photos with him during our trips,” said Adi Marziano, one of Matan’s friends who traveled to Africa. “Matan loved to travel. He had plans to explore the world, and this is the reason all of his friends created the project to commemorate him and take him with us on our travels, and remember what he really loved.”
One by one, Matan’s friends embarked on their journeys, and took with them the stickers commemorating Matan. The stickers have been placed in many locations worldwide, including Africa, Europe, South America and North America.
Matan has been gone for eight months now, and left behind a loving family and friends who think of him every day. May his memory be a blessing.
View the breathtaking photos below: