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Netanyahu: Difficult dilemmas
Photo: Flash 90
Asaf Ramon
Reproduction photo: Yariv Katz
PM: Tendency not to allow bereaved sons in combat
Following tragic death of Asaf Ramon, whose father, first Israeli astronaut Ilan died six years ago, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses question of allowing children of bereaved families to risk lives in combat military service, says 'There are very difficult dilemmas here; no unequivocal answer'

Should children of bereaved families be allowed to serve in combat units and put their lives on the line? On the day after the heavy tragedy that befell the Ramon family, this question - which has been occupying the security establishment for some time now – arises yet again.

 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered his thoughts on the matter. "There are very difficult dilemmas here, and there is no unequivocal answer," the PM said in an interview to Army Radio, after discussing the issue with the defense minister and other cabinet members.

 

"The immediate tendency is not to approve," he said.

 

Bringing up his own military history, as a bereaved brother to Yonatan Netanyahu, who was killed during Operation Entebbe, he said, "I and my two brothers were in the same unit, a tiny unit. My parents didn't know where we were serving or what chances we were taking, and I think we broke all the General Staff's orders together – but no one would have been able to stop us. We would have found a way in the end."

 

The tragic news of the death of first Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon's son Asaf in an F-16 crash in south Mount Hebron on Sunday was given to Netanyahu as he himself was boarding an airplane on his way to Egypt.

 

"I was as shocked as the rest of the people who were accompanying me were. It was a very difficult shock." he said.

 

The news of the crash was also the first thing he told his Egyptian host, President Hosni Mubarak. "He knew Ilan's case. He heard the news and was shocked. He told me he knows how difficult it is to lose a son or grandson, as he himself had lost his grandson."

 

Of his over night conversation with the bereaved mother Rona Ramon, the prime minister said, "I think she is going through hell right now. Something I have seen and experienced up close. It is double bereavement, which is almost a biblical tragedy of a father and son following their love for the skies, and ascending to the heavens in iron chariots, and coming back down in chariots of fire."

 

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