Five Armored Corps soldiers were killed on Thursday while operating in the Eshkol region when they were hit by Hamas mortar shells, the IDF announced on Friday.
Sgt.-Maj. (res.) Daniel Marash, 22, from Rishon Lezion, was discharged earlier this year but was called up for reserve duty.
Just prior to his death, he and his fellow soldiers were hosted by a family in the South. Marash left them a parting thank you note, which the family released on its Facebook page on Friday.
“Thank you for the warm and relaxing hospitality,” Marash wrote. “I was very happy to meet you and see that there are good people like you in the country – you are turning our country into such a special and beautiful place.”
He left his phone number in the note, and told them not to hesitate to call should they need anything.
He is survived by his parents and three siblings. Marash was laid to rest Friday in the military section of Holon cemetery.
Yoram Tal, the father of slain officer Capt. Omri Tal, 22, from Yehud, eulogized his son Friday.
“My son was a beautiful boy. He was like a movie star,” he told Channel 2. “He knew from the North to the South every hiking trail in this country and every free day that he had he would go out hiking.”
His father added that he had been worried and had called Tal every few hours to see what his status was, but on Thursday his son no longer answered and he knew that he had gone into Gaza.
“I lost my dear son and I loved him with all my soul, but life will go on and I choose life and we will go on as a family, as a society and as a nation,” his father said, choking on tears.
Details for his funeral have yet to be released.
St.-Sgt. Shay Kushnir, 20, of Kiryat Motzkin, near Haifa, dreamed of serving in a combat position despite having studied at the Technological School of the Air Force in Haifa.
A day before his death, Kushnir’s father wrote a message on his son’s Facebook page.
“I really, really, really miss you,” he wrote. “I am living with a feeling that I haven’t seen you in years.
How are you responding to every situation that you encountered, you and all the youth that have befallen this difficult task? “The role of human shields for our tiny country in Operation Protective Edge that with every day that passes turns from an operation to a war in every sense of this horrible word, but I know and believe that you and your friends are strong, determined and full of motivation to complete this difficult task, which has fallen to you.”
Kushnir was buried Friday in the military section of Kiryat Ata cemetery.
St.-Sgt. Noam Rosenthal, 20, from Meitar, near Beersheba, was buried Friday in Meitar cemetery.
“The people of Israel and the family of Meitar bow their heads to the memory of one of the best among us that fell in protecting the people and the country,” Meitar Mayor Avner Ben Gera eulogized. “You were born and educated in our community, you absorbed the values that today you bequeath to us and to your friends that after this ceremony will return equipped with them to the fighting.”
Ben Gera noted with incredulity that Rosenthal was the second soldier to have fallen and been laid to rest in Meitar this week. On Monday, Capt. Liad Lavi, 22, was buried in Meitar. Rosenthal is survived by his parents and older brother and a twin brother who is serving in the IDF.
Capt. (res.) Liran Adir (Edry), 31, from Ezuz in the Negev, served as a squad commander for reconnaissance fighters in 2004-2005. He had just gotten married one month ago to his longtime girlfriend, Slayit.
A local Netanya based newspaper reported Friday a final exchange between Adir and his mother, Rachel.
“Hi, what’s going on? I haven’t heard from you,” wrote his mother via SMS.
Adir replied, “everything is okay, will call tonight.” Shortly afterwards he was killed in action.
Upon hearing the news, friends and family paid tribute to the fallen soldier celebrating his life and mourning his death.
“How can we say goodbye to you like this, after all our long conversations and the help you have given me. I am so proud of you because you are a hero and will always be a hero,” Adir’s cousin wrote on his Facebook page.
Details for his funeral had yet to be released by press time.
The IDF also released the names of two additional soldiers killed Friday morning in a clash with Hamas gunmen in Rafah in which Sec.- Lt. Hadar Goldin was apparently abducted.
Maj. Benaya Sarel, 26, from Kiryat Arba served as an officer in the Givati Brigade. He was to be married in less than a month’s time.
Earlier this week embedded journalists from Yediot Aharonot/YNET interviewed Sarel during his mission.
“I am even shocked. These are not fighters. He who dares abandon his weapon and his vest behind and run, he’s not a fighter,” Sarel said in a video describing his experiences fighting Hamas in Gaza and showing a weapons cache his unit had confiscated.
Sarel said his wedding was in a few weeks but he hadn’t bought a suit yet.
“My wife is making all the arrangements. She ran the office of a Givati Brigade commander, so she supports and understands the importance of the mission,” he said.
Sarel was laid to rest at 12:15 a.m. Sunday morning in Hebron.
St.-Sgt. Liel Gidoni, 20, from Jerusalem served in Givati.
“An amazing and incredibly boy – just a boy. He was always smiling. That was the biggest word. Simply smiling,” Zion, Gidoni’s brother, told Channel 2. “This entire situation, this entire condition, if he were here he would probably be smiling.”
Gidoni’s father, Eli, said before his son left he saw him and gave him “such big hug that I said: ‘Nothing could hurt him.’” “I didn’t believe that anything could hurt this kid.”
He is survived by his parents and three siblings. Gidoni’s funeral is scheduled for 5 p.m. Sunday at Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem.