Friends and relatives of Lt. Col. M., who was killed during an IDF mission in Gaza, told Ynet he was a source of pride and inspiration.
"His Family did not know about his work, and that he holds a senior position (in the army)," according to H., Lt. Col. M.'s relative.
"He planned to be discharged from the army in several months and begin a second career. He was a source of pride for all of us because of his military career as well as on the social level.
"His death is a big loss and a hard and painful blow to all of us, to the family and to the whole community.
H. added that Lt. Col. M. left the community when he was in the eighth grade to attend a school in Haifa and that he remained in the army ever since.
"I think he was the first from our community, who studied in Haifa. He was very active socially and contributed a lot. He had a wife and two children, a wonderful family," H. explained.
The residents of Lt. Col. M.'s community said he was beloved by all and "a modest man, who avoided pompousness.” Residents say they knew he was an officer but did not know in which unit he served.
M., the highest ranking IDF officer killed on the Gaza front since 2014, was also one of the founders of an educational-social project in his town.
Bennett visits wounded
The officer, a captain in the reserves, who was injured in the Sunday night operation is hospitalized at Soroka Medical Center in Be’er Sheva. His mother sounded grateful that his condition is stable.
“We are praying for his wellbeing,” said his brother. “We received the notification in middle of the night and came straight to the hospital. We are hoping for the best.”
Education Minister Naftali Bennett visited the injured officer and spoke with his family Monday morning. Before leaving, he made a statement: “IDF forces carried out a brave operation last night in order to bring security to the residents of Israel. To my sorrow, we lost Lt. Col. M., a hero and a great son of Israel.” He also wished a speedy recovery to the injured.