IDF snub of non-Jewish soldier's grave sparks ado

Gantz apologizes for offense after not planting flag on grave of last fallen soldier in pre-Remembrance Day custom.

April 12, 2013 01:56
1 minute read.
IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz

IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz 370. (photo credit: IDF Spokesman's Office)

After failing to place a flag on the grave of the last fallen IDF soldier in Jerusalem's Mount Herzl military cemetery, and being slammed with criticism that this was done because that soldier is not Jewish, IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gentz issued an apology on Thursday evening to anyone who was offended by the incident.

Before Remembrance Day for the Fallen of Israel’s wars, which will be marked on Monday, it is customary for the chief of staff to place a flag, in the military graveyard on Mount Herzl, on the grave of the last IDF soldier who fell.

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The statement added that IDF procedures have been updated and that in the future, the chief of staff will place the flag on the grave of the last fallen soldier, regardless of the soldier's religion, race or gender.

Meretz chief Zehava Gal-On had accused Gantz earlier on Thursday of not planting a flag on the grave of the latest IDF fallen soldier, Evgeny Tuluzko, because he was not Jewish.

“Mourning is equally difficult among Jews as it is among non-Jews. It was not necessary to add to the family’s grief through alienation grounded in an ugly discrimination of blood which also contradicts basic democratic principles,” Gal-On said.

Gal-On added that the fact that the fallen soldier was not Jewish “did not hinder the state from asking him to sacrifice himself for its sake, yet upon his death [the state] casts him ‘beyond the fence’ [of the cemetery] and refuses to pay him his final respects.”

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