On the opening day of the Yom Kippur War, Corporal Moshe Yitzhak Tuval, a dedicated Nahal (Infantry Brigade) soldier, found himself stationed at the dock post. Alongside three other soldiers, he valiantly fought Egyptian army forces, utilizing small arms and hand grenades.
Embroiled in the battle's intensity, a grenade was hurled into their position, endangering the lives of the four soldiers. Reacting with instinctive bravery, Tuval threw himself over the grenade, shielding his comrades and saving their lives.
His courageous act notwithstanding, the outpost eventually fell into enemy hands and his body was taken by the Egyptians. It wasn't until years later that his remains will finally be returned to his homeland through a peace agreement with Egypt.
Before joining the military, Tuval was a yeshiva student. Ya'akov Gur, a close friend of Tuval's from his military service, recalled their longstanding friendship, saying, "Tuval and I knew each other even before our days in the army. At the start of the war, we found ourselves in the same relatively rearward position, but we both had a strong desire to advance to the front lines.
"However, our commander thought that our presence there was unnecessary, and he requested that one of us relocate to fight in another position. This led to an argument between us, and Tuval, being the more determined of the two of us, insisted on taking up the new assignment. I relented. Later, I learned about what had happened with the grenade.
"I knew he was a serious fighter, but I can't help feeling that I sent him to his death. This thought has stuck with me for five decades. While I endured captivity and witnessed many challenging experiences, this type of event is something that doesn't leave you."
Tuval's courageous act earned him the Chief of Staff's Citation, a recognition he held for many years. However, his family firmly believes that he deserves one of the three higher decorations, akin to those bestowed upon other Israeli heroes like Natan Elbaz and Roy Klein, who also selflessly saved others by sacrificing themselves and jumping over a grenade. His commanders shared this sentiment and previously submitted a recommendation to that effect the matter was later abandoned.
On the occasion of the war's anniversary, the family has made a heartfelt plea to IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi through Netzah Yehuda Director Yossi Levy to rectify the historical injustice. Levy stated, "His parents and sister have since passed away, and his brother and brother-in-law are now elderly, but this issue remains of profound significance to them. They are hopeful that by correcting this oversight and awarding Tuval with the appropriate decoration, they may find some measure of comfort and solace for the pain they have endured over the past 50 years.
"Furthermore, honoring an ultra-Orthodox individual who selflessly sacrificed his life for his friends, his people and his country would serve as a powerful testament to motivate recruitment for combat service within the ultra-Orthodox community. It would also contribute significantly to reducing tension and division among different segments of the population regarding the burden of military service."
Tuval's brother, Motti, shared the profound impact of his death on their family. "His passing deeply affected our household. When the topic of awarding him a decoration arose, our late mother requested that we refrain from pursuing it as long as she was alive because it caused her immense pain. It served as a painful reminder that repeatedly reopened the emotional wound.
"After her passing, my sister took up the cause once more, reaching out to defense ministers. Unfortunately, she too fell ill and eventually passed away. After enduring all the heartache, it is truly time to rectify this and do justice for my brother. He was a hero, and his bravery deserves recognition, with his story shared and honored."