The coffin of Major Eliraz Peretz was brought to the Darchei Noam Synagogue in Givat Zeev on Monday. Dozens of residents and friends surrounded Peretz's coffin to pay their last respects. Thousands then joined the funeral procession at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.
Peretz was killed on Friday in a fire exchange in Gaza, 12 years after his brother Uriel Peretz was killed in an explosion in Lebanon. Staff Sergeant Ilan Sviatkovsky was also killed in Friday's incident, and will be laid to rest at 3 pm.
Peretz's mother Miriam said on Sunday, "Eliraz, you came to Uriel's synagogue. I brought you to the synagogue. The spirit of the Torah, the spirit of Judaism, the spirit of the creator."
Rabbi Menachem Wetzler said Kaddish for Eliraz. Chief Military Rabbi Avichai Rontzki read a psalm, and Eliraz's brothers Amichai and Elyasaf broke into tears. They carried Eliraz's coffin and told him they love him. His sister Bat-El said, "I do not want to say goodbye to you."
Eliraz's brothers crying over coffin (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
Golani commander, Colonel Avi Peled spoke at the fresh grave: "Eliraz, my brother, my heart cannot comprehend your death. You, who knew no fear, you who would always storm ahead of your troops, you were taken from us. A man whose love for his country and his troops always came first."
"We are filled with bewilderment at how you, Eliraz, who was saved so many times, were the one to get hit. But on the other hand, this is not surprising, since you were always the first one to storm, as you were raised and educated. Your love for your family and for your wife Shlomit was great, but despite the risks, you continued to do your job."
Eliraz's brother, Amichai said weepingly, "Eliraz my love, there is a saying that the righteous are considered alive even in death; you were full of joy, a person full of goodness.
"The Torah has strengthened in you all the values that we were raised on – the love for all the people of Israel, even if they are different than you," he said.
Peretz's sister, Bat-El also lamented over her brother's grave, "When Uriel was killed I was 9-years-old and didn't comprehend a thing. Now that Eliraz is gone I understand; it tears the heart apart – it is a huge pain.
"Eliraz – after dad died you were like a father to me. It pains me that you won't walk me to the chuppah like dad promised to do, and so did you.
"Eliraz, my dear brother, my soul, you are reuniting with our family up above. I swear that I will raise my children to follow your path. I know we will meet one day, I will join you, dad and Uriel, but until that day I will continue with what you have started. I love you and salute you," she said.
Thousands joined funeral procession (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
Peretz's mom said sobbingly, "The joy of my life – you always encouraged me to keep going. Your Shlomit, whose soul is intertwined with yours, has lost a sensitive and loving husband, your brothers and children lost a role model.
"But Eliraz, my son, If I could only describe what is happening today; the people of Israel lost one of its best sons – you are the son of the people of Israel," she cried bitterly, "You are a leader, a fighter, a commander, a believer in the path, who lived a life full of meaning. You, my son, had a pure heart, complete perfection."
At the start of Sunday's cabinet meeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered condolences to the family. "We are amazed by the mother's strength, Miriam, the mother of the sons. The entire nation draws strength from her courage," he said.
On Saturday, Ynet learned that demolition orders have been issued for Peretz's home in the West Bank outpost of Givat Hayovel, near the settlement of Eli, where his wife and four children reside. The home is an illegal structure.
MK Danny Danon (Likud) appealed to the prime minister and defense minister on the matter. He said, "The defense minister must authorize the neighborhood before Passover eve. If he does not do this, it will be a slap in the fact of the State of Israel and in the path and heritage of the neighborhood's residents."
The High Court of Justice recently gave the State 60 days to form a timetable to complete the demolitions.
One of Peretz's neighbors was Major Roi Klein, who was killed during the Second Lebanon War by jumping on a hand grenade to save his fellow soldiers.
Some of the residents of Eli and Givat Hayovel told Ynet that Peretz took Klein's family in after his death, inviting them to dinner and teaching the children the Torah.