The parents of Matan Avergil from the West Bank received the heart-wrenching news of their son's death on Wednesday. However, it was only a few days later that they discovered the heroic act their son had committed. Avergil had selflessly thrown himself on a grenade that was aimed at him and his companions, a courageous act that ultimately saved their lives.
In the initial hours of the unexpected attack by Hamas, soldiers from the Golani Brigade were engaged in intense combat in Kibbutz Nir Am. As per the accounts, seven soldiers including Avergil found themselves under attack by a multitude of Hamas militants. His fellow soldier, Daniel Varach, recounted, "Matan and we were in the armored vehicle, completely encircled with no escape route."
Unexpectedly, a terrorist tossed a grenade into the Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) housing the seven soldiers. "Matan spotted the grenade and lunged over us. I attempted to restrain him but he was resolute. When I opened my eyes a minute later, he was over me, expressing 'I tried to do everything to protect the people of Israel'. Being a medic, I tried to rescue him, but when I could not feel a pulse, I realized he was no longer with us," recounted one of the soldiers.
On Thursday, Avergil was laid to rest. One of his comrades from the APC honored him saying, "On our behalf, and on behalf of all the unit members, our deepest gratitude goes to you. You shielded us all, taking the blow onto yourself. You are a genuine hero, a noble spirit. Your memory and story will eternally live on in my heart." Eric, Avergil's father, addressed the soldiers who shared the APC with his son, expressing, "We love you all like we love our children."
Avergil, the youngest among four siblings, belonged to a longstanding family within the Hermesh settlement in the West Bank. Two of his brothers had also joined the army. A tragic loss befell the family when his cousin, Avraham Cohen, was killed at a nature gathering in the south.
Yossi Dagan, the head of the Samaria Council, mourned his loss saying: "You displayed no fear or hesitation, you battled and succumbed alongside your brothers in arms, defending our homeland and our people. You hail from a lineage of warriors, descendants of King David." He appealed to "the Defense Minister and the IDF Chief of Staff to bestow upon him the highest privilege, the medal of honor."