Reproduction photo: Amir Cohen
Marian Berkovitch
Reproduction photo: Amir Cohen
Reproduction photo: Hagai Aharon
Yossi Karkash
Reproduction photo: Hagai Aharon
Reproduction photo: Raanan Ben-Zur
Danny Ben-David
Reproduction photo: Raanan Ben-Zur

Families, friends mourn killed reservists

Single Katyusha rocket leaves 12 reserve soldiers dead, 12 families shattered Sunday. Relatives, friends mourn fallen loved ones

Twelve reservists were killed by a single Katyusha rocket in Kfar Giladi on Sunday, in an attack that left 12 families across Israel devastated and grieving.


The reservists were staying in an open field near the kibbutz in the Galilee panhandle, when a heavy rocket barrage pummeled the area. One of the rockets landed amidst the troops, instantly killing 10 of them. Two other reservists died later in the hospital.


Some of the soldiers were waiting in the place to be assigned to their units. The fact that they were sitting close together contributed to the lethality of the strike.


The names of 10 of the 12 reservists have been cleared for publication:


  • Staff Sergeant Marian Berkovitch, 31, from Ashdod
  • Sergeant Major Yossi Karkash, 41, from Afula
  • First Sergeant Major Danny Ben-David, 38, from the community of Ahituv
  • Staff Sergeant Yehuda Grinfeld, 27, from Maaleh Michmash
  • First Sergeant Major Shlomo Bucharis, 36, from the community of Sdeh Yitzhak
  • Sergeant Major Ziv Balali, 28, from Kfar Saba
  • Sergeant Major Roee Yaish, 27, from Herzliya
  • Staff Sergeant Shai Machlovitch, 21, from Netanya
  • Sergeant Major Shmuel Halfon, 41, from Bat Yam
  • Captain Eliyahu Elkriaf, 34, from Granot


'Marian loved life'


At the Berkovitch family house, the parents of Marian Berkovitch had a difficult time coming to terms with the bitter news. Marian, a paratrooper, was called up on Wednesday and has been in constant touch with his family ever since. His father, Benno, told a friend that he felt something bad was going on, but that he was more concerned for his youngest son, who is already serving in Lebanon.


Friends and neighbors talked about an energetic, friendly guy, who loved to laugh. "He was a kid who loved life…he loved challenges, traveled in faraway lands, was a scuba diving instructor in Eilat and enjoyed jeep rides," a friend said.


Marian is survived by his two parents and two brothers.


'Always smiled and laughed'


Yossi Karkash from Afula met Sunday morning with his relative, Shlomi Bucharis from the community of Sdeh Yitzhak, shortly before they were both due to leave for Lebanon. Their death left their families shattered.


"We are torn, we don't know which family to visit and console first," a relative said.


Karkash was called up a week ago. His colleagues at work described him as a person who loved life, and who used to smile and laugh all the time. "Yossi was a kind soul, and had never refused anything you asked him to do," his relative said.


Yossi is survived by his wife, Orna, and two daughters: Linoy, 15, and Lihi, 12.


Volunteered to serve


The family of Danny Ben-David from Ahituv asked him not to go to Lebanon, but Danny decided to volunteer and join his friends in the paratroop brigade.


Danny, who was born and raised in Ahituv, was married to Yifat a father of three: Tomer, 9, Ido, 6, and May, 4. 'He was an angel," his wife said.


Eliyahu Farhi, a neighbor of the family, described Danny: "I raised this child. A kind kid, always with a smile on his face, always laughing and hugging. He always loved to help people."


'My world shattered'


Shmuel Halfon, 41, from Bat Yam is survived by his wife Iris and three sons – Aharon, 16, Gil, 21, and Liad-Or, who is 11-months-old. Iris said her husband liked to perform reserves duty and loved the army.


Halfon was called up for reserve duty about two weeks ago. Last week he was informed that he can return home, but a day after he arrived he was called back to the army.


Family members spent long, hectic hours Sunday after failing to reach Halfon on his cellular phone.


"At noon, after we heard about what happened, I tried to call him but couldn't get a hold of him. I called the hospital and then the army office…everyone said they don't know," the wife recounted. "By the afternoon Aharon called the cellular phone and a military police officer answered – we asked him whether he was at Kfar Giladi and he said he was…that's how we realized what happened."


"At six in the evening they rang the doorbell. I told the officer 'please tell me that he's wounded,' but he grabbed my hands and said "let's sit down,' and then I saw the whole world shatter before my eyes," Iris said.


'He helped everyone'


Gregory Aharonov, 34, from Or Akiva was named after his grandfather, who died in World War II, also at the age of 34. Aharonov's family moved to Israel from Ukraine in 1991. Gregory served in the IDF as a truck driver.


"He told us he was going up to Kiryat Shmona (on the Lebanese border) and we didn't know he was in Kfar Giladi," a relative said. "When we heard about what happened at Kfar Giladi we had great concerns and immediately attempted to reach him on his cell phone…at night they arrived and informed us he was killed."


Gregory worked as a manager at a cosmetics factory. He is survived by his wife, Oksana, and his two children, Yaniv, 13, and Shani, 6, as well as his parents and two older sisters.


"He was an exemplary family man, an athlete…he helped everyone," a relative said. "He would always do reserve duty and this time, despite his concerns, when they called him up he went."


'Dont' worry'


Shlomo Bucharis, 36, from the community of Sdeh Yitzhak had called his brother Kiki on Sunday, telling him that "others had gone into Lebanon while they remained outside, don't worry," he assured them. Just a short while later the Katyusha rocket that landed at the entrance to Kfar Giladi, took Shlomo's life.


Shlomo was named after his father who had fallen in the Six-Day War. Shlomo is survived by his parents Raphi and Sara. Family members said Shlomo was still single but he loved children. His funeral will take place at 6 pm at the Sdeh YItzhak cemetery.


Yehuda Grinfeld, 27, from Maale Machmash, was called up for reserve duty despite the fact that he was recently injured during a field trip in the Judean Desert. Yehuda was married to Gavriela and the couple has two children: two-and-half-year-old Raya and four-month-old Avichai. Yehuda is survived by his parents Avraham and Bilha, and his five brothers Hanoch, Shoshi, Yitzhak, David and Bracha.


Ziv Balali, 28, from Kfar Saba. Ziv was due to celebrate his 29th birthday next month. He recently completed his Middle Eastern studies and was living with his parents. Ziv was survived by his parents and a sister.


Sharon Roffe-Ofir, Tova Dadon and Raanan Ben-Zur contributed to the report


פרסום ראשון: 08.07.06, 08:21
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