Hundreds attended the funeral in Jerusalem on Wednesday night for Sgt. Pdaya Mark, 22, a soldier in the Givati battalion who fell in the fierce battles against Hamas terrorists in Gaza. Pdaya was killed after an anti-tank missile was fired and hit the Namir APC he was in, a serious incident in which 10 other fighters were also killed. Among the hundreds of people who came to mourn Pdaya was his cousin, the former head of the Mossad, Yossi Cohen, as well as government ministers and Knesset members.
Following the funeral, photos appeared on social media of Cohen holding a young Pdaya on his lap and comforting him during the 2016 funeral of his father, Rabbi Miki Mark, who was killed in a Palestinian shooting attack near his home of Otniel.
Pdaya's mother, Chava Mark, paid tribute to him through her tears and said that "we are only saying goodbye to your body, my love. You were a hero, strong, brave and determined." Her daughter continued to read the eulogy on behalf of her mother. "You knew what you wanted - to be a soldier in the Israel Defense Forces, and you went for it with all your might. I wanted to stop you, but I really couldn't," her eulogy continued.
"In addition to being a hero and strong, you were sensitive," she added. "I miss you so much that there are no words to describe it, it is not possible that you are not coming back. I will wait for you to return with my father and my brother, only the hope and faith that you will return gives me strength."
Pdaya's sister, Shira, said that she wrote her eulogy in his room. "I thank you, beloved, for this privilege to feel you close, to learn nobility from you, along with modesty. When you spoke it was sharp, with a power that others' speech does not have," she said. "I remember your smile, I remember countless moments of conversations about the attack. The whole time you held values that I don't know where, you came to a determined and stubborn command like only you know how to be."
"My children admire you and want to be like you, just like you," she added. "Your huge heart, your inner and outer beauty. Everyone wanted your closeness, just to be near you. Because of my love for you, I will continue to live this life to the fullest. My children will continue to talk about you and your endless bravery. A small request - pray for us for the healing of mind and body, for victory and unity of the people."
The deputy commander of the Gaza Division, Lt. Col. Guy Biton, who was previously the commander of the Givati Reconnaissance Company (Sayeret Givati), said that "Pedia took a significant part in the defense of the State of Israel and its citizens." Biton paid tribute to Pedia, adding that "despite the family struggle with your father and brother - you chose to be a fighter. You were a special, humble person, with a heart of gold and a constant smile. You were an inspiring commander, with great humility you spread light wherever you went. You fell as a hero fighting against a vile enemy."
Yisca, Pdaya's sister-in-law and the widow of his brother Shlomi, said that "I felt that you would die in this war, and I knew that I had no way to prevent it. I felt signs on the way, in the messages and words you chose. Few people got to know the depths of your beautiful soul, I already miss you my best friend, the man who knows me almost without words. You were the world to us." Pdaya's little nephew added: "You were like a big brother to me."
Earlier in the day, hundreds of friends, acquaintances and family members came to Pdaya's home in the Otniel settlement in Har Hebron. In the family's statement, his sister Orit paid tribute to him: "Pdaya waited all his life to be in the army, he always loved the country and family was above all, he would strengthen us." His sister Shira said: "His heroism in battle was amazing, but Pdaya was also a hero every day, since the terrible attack in which our father was murdered and mother was injured."
Pdaya had not been home since Simchat Torah. A week after the start of the Gaza war, he sent flowers home and asked for a message to be attached. His sister Shira read the message he sent to his family, adding: "Pdaya managed to live a life full of meaning, full of resilience, full of power. I feel that despite this third death in our family we are not losing, there is a victory here because Pdaya fought out of love and not hate."
His brother Yehoshua said: "On the Sunday after Black Saturday, our great cousin Elhanan Clemenzon fell in battle in Be'eri. The whole family was informed, and Pdaya was still fighting in Kfar Aza. We were sure that he would return home to be with us for Shabbat, but Pdaya had no doubt that as a commander he remained with his soldiers." He added: "Ever since he was a child he trained, and said, 'I'm going to do something significant.' Beneath the scary warrior, Pdaya was full of cuteness. It's important to remember that, in the end, every soldier and hero is a brother and a little boy surrounded by people who love him."
In 2016, Pdaya's father , Michael (Miki) Mark, was murdered in a shooting attack in the south of Mount Hebron, when vehicle carrying Palestinian terrorists overtook the family's car traveling on Route 60, and the terrorists opened heavy fire in their direction. Chava was seriously injured, and Pdaya and his sister Tehila, who were with them in the car, were also injured during the attack. In 2019, his older brother Shlomi was also killed in a motorcycle accident; he also served in Givati and went on to work in the security service.
During the massacre in the Gaza border communities on October 7, Pdaya's cousin, Elhanan Clemenzon, who served as an officer in the reserves, also fell in the battles with Hamas terrorists. When Pdaya was informed of Elhanan's death, they asked him to come to the funeral and be with the family, but he refused to leave his soldiers in battle and decided to stay and fight by their side.