Families of civilian victims left out of Lebanon war memorial
Memorial ceremony for soldiers fallen in Second Lebanon War to be held Wednesday. Family members of civilians killed are outraged: 'Killed civilian always second rate in comparison to soldier. It doesn't matter if they were killed in exactly same war'
According to the killed civilians' families, they were only invited to participate in the first memorial ceremony in 2007 by laying a wreath.
"My mother was the one who laid the wreath," recounted Sigal Naim-Hazan, sister of Rafi Hazan, who was killed in a Katyusha rocket attack on Haifa's train depot on the fourth day of the war. "They let her lay the last wreath, after all the figures and organizations, leaving no space, so she had to lay the wreath on the floor. Since then, even if they invited me, I wouldn't come."
Despite this, Sigal said that the dismissive treatment of civilian war casualties is not only seen in official memorial ceremonies. "I brought up the subject at one of the memorials, and someone said to me unequivocally – it will never be the same thing. A civilian killed will always be second rate to a soldier. It doesn't matter if they were killed in exactly the same war."
"Every year we have fought against this, but to no avail. It is simply inconceivable. We are one country; it was one war. My brother fought four years in the military ranks, was wounded and returned to service. Yet, he was a civilian (when he was killed), so he is worth less? Where is the fairness? Where is the justice?" wondered Sigal.
Meir Hazan, Sigal and Rafi's brother, told Ynet that he did not even know about the state memorial Wednesday. "The first year they still invited us. It was fresh. Perhaps it made them uncomfortable. After that, they simply forgot about us. It simply is not understandable because my brother fell during the war, in a depot of Israel Rail. He could have stayed home, or with his wife in a safe area, but he went to work," said Meir.
'We, too, were part of war'
Tzviya Tamam, widow of Ariyeh Tamam, who was killed with his brother, Tiran, on August 3, 2006 near their mother's house in Akko, recalled that the Second Lebanon War was a war of the Home Front.
"True, the soldiers serve and protect us, but in the case of the Second Lebanon War, we, too, were part of the fighting. Every rocket attack was aimed at the civilian population. Both my husband and his brother were killed in the war. Why isn't that considered? They weren't blown up in a terrorist attack, or in some other incident. It was a war. Why do they need to receive discriminatory treatment?" charged Tzviya.
Members of other families, including elderly parents, said that they have no more strength to fight for the right, which should be taken for granted, for their sons to be considered victims of the war. "Everything needs to be a struggle. A struggle for recognition, a struggle for putting up veteran memorials. We don't want to struggle anymore," said one of them.
The Defense Ministry said that responsibility does not fall on their shoulders. "These complaints need not be directed toward us, since the law obligates us only to handling victims of the defense establishment and their family members – not the rest of those hurt in wars and terrorist attacks," reported the ministry.