Israel Mourns 11 Fallen Soldiers In Funerals Across the Nation

Israel Mourns 11 Fallen Soldiers In Funerals Across the Nation
IDF grave

Currently, the number of IDF soldiers killed since the ground war began is 311. 

By Shula Rosen

On Sunday, 11 soldiers were laid to rest in funerals across Israel after a deadly Saturday that claimed the lives of soldiers, reservists, and commanders.

Most of the fallen soldiers were killed in the deadliest incident for the IDF in six months when an explosion in Rafah claimed the lives of 8 members of the Combat Engineering Corps’ 601st Battalion.

On the same day, two reservists were killed in northern Gaza, and one soldier died of his wounds sustained five days earlier.

In addition, another soldier was killed in Rafah on Sunday.

The deputy commander of the Combat Engineering Corps 601st Battalion, Cpt. Wassem Mahmoud, 23, was laid to rest in Beit Jann, where mourners delayed their Eid al-Adha Muslim holiday to pay their respects.

“It is a tragic day for the people of Israel, for the State of Israel, a great loss,” his uncle Sharif said on Sunday. “Wassem was meant to go and study, that was the last conversation I had with him. He was chosen as a representative from the battalion to go and study.”

Family and friends discussed the sacrifice of Mahmoud, who fought since the war began on October 7th, even after he had been injured.

Druze leader Sheikh Muakfak Tarif eulogized Mahmoud and said, “He didn’t give up. He kept his head held high. He pushed on and continued to fight even after he was wounded.”

Sgt. Eliyahu Moshe Zimbalist, who was also killed in the same explosion, was buried on Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem.

Zimbalist, who was 21 years old, made aliyah with his family from the United States and lived in Bet Shemesh.

“Eliyahu Moshe, the gibor (hero). You were supposed to be speaking at my funeral, not me speaking at yours,” his father Simmy said in English at his graveside. “

You were supposed to say kaddish (the Jewish prayer for the dead), not me. This is one of the most difficult days for me and our family. There are no words to express our feelings,” he added.

Staff Sgt. Stanislav Kostarev, 21, also from the 601st Battalion, was laid to rest in Ashdod.

The principal of Eva Tevet, where Kostarev attended high school, described him as “quiet and introverted, always respectful of humanity, a wise and humble boy, pleasant and kind-hearted.”

A funeral was held in Sgt. Itay Amar, 19 in Kochav Yair, and his friend Ohad told Walla, “Itay was a boy who would make everyone smile.”

He added, “You couldn’t be sad next to him. He’d cling to you and not let you go until he made you smile. He was really a stellar person.”

Itay Amar was friends with Liri Albag, who is being held hostage in Gaza, and there is a video of the two dancing at a nursing home.

Amar’s older brother, Ofir, said, “Itay told us he had a friend who was kidnapped, Liri Albag, that was difficult for him. He had the honor of dying to defend the people of Israel.”

Staff Sgt. Oz Yeshaya Gruber, 20, from Tal Menashe, was buried Shaked. The Tal Menashe chairman described Gruber as “a hero on the battlefield who was always smiling, always with good vibes, always happy to lend a hand.”

Staff Sgt. Orr Blumovitz, 20, was buried on Monday, and his family remembers him as a “bookworm” who read a thousand books on Israeli history.

“I can’t comprehend that he won’t come home again,” Orr’s younger brother, Tal said.

Sgt. Yakir Ya’akov Levi, 21, from Hafetz Haim, was buried on Har Herzl in Jerusalem.

Rabbi Zachariah Rabinovitch said Levi was “enlightening, sociable and pleasant. Yakir was very bright, razor sharp … He was very determined to win and not to see blackness, to have his head held high and to give his all.”

Sgt. Shalom Menachem, 21, from Beit El, also died in the blast in Rafah and studied in the yeshiva program with Levi and Zimablist.

“The grief is unfathomable. He fell as a hero in the war for our existence. Our hearts are with his family’s heavy loss,” Beit El council head Shay Alon said of Menachem.

Cpt. (res.) Eitan Koplovich and Warrant Officer (res.) Elon Weiss, both from the IDF’s 8th Reserve Armored Brigade’s 129th, were killed in northern Gaza when an explosive hit the tank.

Koplovich, 28, was buried in Hoshaya and leaves a wife and a child.

Koplovich was a unit commander, and his Uncle Golan said, “He entered Gaza on short notice, so he didn’t have time to tell us much about what he experienced. He graduated with honors from law at the Hebrew University and was about to start interviewing for internships.”

Weiss, 49, leaves behind 7 children and a grandchild and was laid to rest at Mt. Herzl cemetery.

Lt. Col. Ariel Ben Baruch remembered him as a “veteran and dedicated fighter… an educator in both routine times and during emergencies. You always acted patiently.”

Sgt. Yair Roitman,19, of the Givati Brigade, was wounded last week in Gaza but succumbed to his wounds on Saturday.

He stepped into a booby-trapped building that killed four and wounded six, four seriously.

Roitman’s mother, Ricki, said Yair “was a perfect child — but I always felt like you were too good for this world. You were a child who never gave up, did what he wanted, and dragged everyone else toward your dreams… you were larger than life.”

Staff Sgt. Tzur Abraham, 22, of the Nahal Brigade’s reconnaissance unit, was killed in fighting in Rafah on Sunday and was buried in his home city, Modiin.

His parents, Shamir and Yifat, said that “the light in his eyes, the gentleness of his soul, and his joy for life will accompany us forever.”

Currently, the number of IDF soldiers killed since the ground war began is 311.




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