"This is not how I wanted to get Majdy back. I didn’t want him brought back to me in a box," said Fahmiya Halabi, the mother of the IDF
soldier whose remains were found
in a forest near the Druze village of Isfiya some seven and-a-half years after he went missing.
Majdy Halabi's remains were found two weeks ago, not far from where he was last seen. Halabi's family had asked that the search operation be resumed after the devastating Carmel Fire,
which left the forest floor more exposed.
Friday Halabi's casket was brought to Beit Ha'am in Daliyat el-Carmel before the funeral at the military cemetery in Isfiya. Some 2,000 people attended the procession. The casket, wrapped in an Israeli flag, was carried to Beit Ha'am by six soldiers, with the soldier's father and brother walking behind it.
Halabi's casket in Daliyat el-Carmel
Minister Daniel Hershkowitz, the government's representative at the funeral, said in his eulogy that Halabi's grave "joins the terrible mosaic that constitutes the foundation of the existence of the State of Israel."
Prior to the funeral, hundreds of people arrived to offer their condolences to the family, including many Jews who took part in the search for the soldier over the years. Among them was Zvi Regev, father of fallen IDF reservist Eldad Regev.
Many of those on hand expressed their anger over the claims that Halabi had committed suicide and demanded that an investigation be launched into the circumstances of his death. They claimed that he was murdered and that the murder was nationalistically-motivated.
Deputy Minister Ayoob Kara said the evidence shows that Halabi was murdered. "Someone had to carry (Majdy's) body to the place in which it was found. And what was a knife doing there if he hanged himself," Kara said. "The family is furious over the attempts to take the investigation to a different direction."
A relative of Halabi said, "He had no reason to put an end to his life. He was smart, physically and mentally healthy, loved and handsome. The problems he did have were not that serious," one of them said.