Families mourn soldiers killed in Gaza
'I have six children, don't tell me two are gone,' cries mother of 32-year-old Eliraz Peretz, killed in fire exchange with Palestinians near Kissufim 12 years after his brother Uriel dies in Lebanon blast. Meanwhile, parents of 21-year-old Ilan Sviatkovsky, also killed in Gaza incident, are left speechless, brother Arik says, 'He loved the army so much'
In November 1998, the Peretz family of Givat Zeev lost their son Uriel in combat in Lebanon. On Friday night, the family suffered another loss. Uriel's brother, Major Eliraz Peretz, deputy commander of the Golani Brigade's 12th battalion and a resident of the settlement of Eli, was killed in a fire exchange in the Gaza Strip. Twelve years ago he eulogized his brother, saying, "Sometimes there is a price to pay for the right path. The price of life." On Friday, at the age of 32, he paid this price. Peretz was survived by a wife and three children, including a two-month-old baby girl. Twenty-one-year-old Ilan Sviatkovsky of Rishon Lezion was also killed in the incident.
Cries were heard in the Peretz family's home in Givat Zeev. The mother Miriam said, "I have six children, don't tell me two of them are gone. Doesn't God understand that I am a human too? I want to die." Family and friends, including former MK Effie Eitam, one of Eliraz's sisters' father-in-law, gathered at the family's home to console them. Central Command chief Avi Mizrahi also visited the family.
Miriam recalled the day Eliraz eulogized his brother Uriel. "I can't take it anymore," she shouted. "How did you leave us? How did you leave us? What kind of holidays do I have? One son was killed during Hanukkah, my husband died on Rosh Hashanah (of cancer five years ago) and now Eliraz ahead of the Passover Seder. His baby daughter will never even know her father."
Miriam's sons Avihai and Elyasaf tried to console her and told her Eliraz was watching her from the heavens, and that he is with his brother Uriel now.
'Ilan loved the army'
Meanwhile, in Rishon Lezion, family and friends of 21-year-old Ilan Sviatkovsky, who was also killed in the incident, gathered at his parents' home. Ilan was survived by his parents and his 24-year-old brother.
"I spoke to him two days ago, it was our last conversation," said Ilan's older brother Arik. "He was a little annoyed with the guarding, but he really loved the army. Two weeks ago, when he arrived from the base, we went out together. It was the last time we were together."
Ilan's parents could not find the words to express their grief. His brother Arik spoke of the bitter moment in which they received the news of Ilan's death: "At 5:30 the town-major called and told me to come home. We were told his unit attacked terrorists, tried to surround them and entered a trap. He was apparently hit by a grenade or from fire."
Arik said his family always worried about Ilan, who was a veteran fighter on the Gaza front: "Our parents always worried about him. He was already in 'Cast Lead' and fought there. My mother didn't want him to enlist to Golani. With me she succeeded, because I didn't go to combat – but my brother was intoxicated. He loved the army so much. Now, when he was approaching the end of his service, he had plans to take a trip. He also planned to go to school."
He said his family was caught completely by surprise with the news: "We didn't hear anything about this incident. Usually we would speak to him every day. He would call in the evening and tell us what he was doing, especially to put our parents mind at east. We didn't hear anything about today's incident until the military representatives came and told us what happened."
Eli Senyor contributed to this report