“Once you only seemed like Superman, now you are Superman,” Ori Greenberg said of his father, Amotz, as he delivered a short, tear-filled eulogy at the packed military cemetery in Hod Hasharon on Sunday evening.
Amotz, 45, a major in the reserves, was one of two soldiers killed on Saturday morning trying to stop Hamas infiltrators who had crossed Israel’s southern border through a tunnel.
One day later, soldiers carried his coffin into the cemetery, folded the flag that had been draped over it, lowered the wooden box into the ground and covered it with brown earth.
Then Ori, 13, his black T-shirt torn at the collar in a mourning ritual, recited Kaddish in a tear-filled voice.
His sister, Shira, eight, walked into the funeral holding her eulogy in her hand, but asked someone else to read it.
She described a father who danced and hiked with her.
“Thank you for everything you did for me,” she had written, adding to her father, “I love you.”
Amotz’s wife, Sagit, said that he was the love of her life and her best friend, who filled her life with light. She thanked him for choosing her as his life-partner 18-years ago.
A cold wind blew across the cemetery as relatives and friends stood up one after the other, to speak of the sudden hole Amotz’s death had left in their lives.
One friend, Lt.-Col. Alon Velenyu, who had been wounded in Gaza, arrived at the funeral in uniform and a wheelchair.
He stood with help, to eulogize Greenberg. The two of them, he said, believed in a country where their children could live without fear.
“The right to live here doesn’t come free. You paid this price out of choice,” he said. “Our tears are tears of love.”
Another friend, also in the IDF, said that a few months ago, when his reserve unit was broken up, he could have chosen a new one that was less likely to have been placed in danger, but he wanted this unit.
“Amotz, my friend, our last meeting was in the supermarket a few weeks ago.
We spoke about our lives and our children.
I did not know that the next time we met, I would be eulogizing you before your last journey,” he said.
Motti Keinan, Amotz’s father-in-law, said it is hard to imagine that they would never again talk during family dinners on Friday nights.
His friend Peleg Raz said he threw away many drafts of his eulogy as he attempted to find the words to part from Amotz.
“There is no one who knew Amotz who was not touched by him,” he said.
To Amotz’s children, he said that their father was a hero they could be proud of.
Raz said that when the two of them served in the Second Lebanon War, Amotz had jokingly asked him to mention his strong relationship to his friends.
“I don’t have to speak of it, we all understand it,” he said.
Finance Minister Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) said that what is buried in a funeral, such as this one, is the life that would have been, the days and nights Amotz would have spent with his family and friends.
Greenberg could have been released from Operation Protective Edge, but it never occurred to him.
Lapid concluded, “He believed that a man doesn’t abandon his country in its hour of need.”