Daniel Tragerman’s family hoped that their boy would be a leader who could bring peace to Israel some day, a dream that was extinguished Friday when his life was cut short after just four years, in a mortar attack on Kibbutz Nahal Oz.
In her eulogy on Sunday, Daniel’s mother, Gila, said the family hoped that now peace would come in Daniel’s death, a tragedy that so far has brought pain and shock to Israelis across the country.
“Daniel, they wanted us to say goodbye to you yesterday, [but] we decided to wait another day – and say goodbye in the light and not in the darkness,” she said. “I wish you would always stay with your charming smile. We love you so much, we don’t want to part from you.”
Gila described her son as “the love of my life, a perfect boy, the dream of every mother and father. Smart, sensitive, advanced for your age in every way. Beautiful, so beautiful.”
She said that on Friday “everything happened so quickly,” and that while Daniel was always the first to run to the safe room during the rocket sirens, “this time you had a frozen look on your face.” She said she called to his younger sister, Yuval, and a moment later it was over, Daniel was gone, and the family “was left with these terrible sights that will follow us for the rest of our lives.”
Daniel’s family, along with hundreds of loved ones, bid farewell to him at a small cemetery in the Hevel Shalom area in the Eshkol region. Like Nahal Oz, the area is exposed to heavy mortar and rocket fire, and the military censor banned Israeli outlets from broadcasting live from the funeral and required that they wait until after the ceremony to report on it, so as not to inform Hamas that there was a gathering of hundreds just a short distance from the border.
Though there was criticism in the press that no members of the government attended the funeral, President Reuven Rivlin was present at the ceremony.
In his eulogy on Sunday, he said Daniel was the boy for whom Israel fights and for whom the country will continue to fight.
“We paid with blood that has no price,” he said.
Speaking of the residents of the South, who live near the Gaza border where Daniel lived, Rivlin said that they, with their bodies, defend the Land of Israel.
Daniel’s life was lost in a matter of moments on Friday afternoon. A warning siren went off and Daniel’s parents, Gila and Doron, dashed to grab his younger siblings, Yuval, three, and Ori, one, to rush them to safety. Though the other two were able to get in the safe room in time, Daniel was still exposed when a mortar hit a car parked outside the family house and sent shrapnel flying inside the house, killing him.
The Tragermans were in the process of packing their belongings to again evacuate the kibbutz, located only 2 km. from the Gaza border. Only a few days earlier they’d returned to the kibbutz after spending most of the war further north with friends and family, and already had their suitcases packed on Friday when the mortar hit outside their house. The kibbutz members have made a collective decision that as many residents as possible will leave until the attacks from Gaza stop.
The IDF said the mortar was fired from near a school that Hamas was using to shelter displaced Palestinians.
Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.
Tragerman is the youngest of four civilians killed in Israel in the during the operation, along with 64 soldiers who died throughout the fighting.
Daniel’s mother said on Saturday that her son was always responsible about the warnings and the sirens, that every time there was an alert he knew where to go and what to do, and that “once everyone was inside the safe room, he’d say ‘Now we’re all safe.’” Aloni Mor of Maariv Sof Shavua contributed to this story.