Sec.-Lt. Roy Peles, 21, was buried Sunday night right next to Sgt. Gilad Rosenthal Yacoby’s fresh grave from less than a week ago.
Section 20 of the Kiryat Shaul cemetery in Tel Aviv was new, with only seven graves before Operation Protective Edge began, but its second row was half filled in the last week.
Peles, who finished the IDF officers’ course one month ago and led a reconnaissance staff in the Nachal brigade, was killed on Friday night, when an anti-tank missile hit the building in Gaza that he was in.
Peles’s friends and families painted a picture of an eternal optimist with a warm, contagious smile who excelled in school and the army, and was committed to volunteering – doing a year of civilian service through the Meitzar Mechina in the Golan before enlisting.
“The only thing wrong with you is you didn’t believe how perfect you are,” his cousin Naama Yahel said. “You were my hero... You didn’t know how much I admired you. The world is not as good a place without you.”
Throughout the funeral proceedings, wind-chimes could be heard from a nearby section in which victims of terror and soldiers killed in the line of duty in 2002 were buried. The area was turned into a colorful garden with potted plants, garden gnomes, and a Snow White figurine.
The chimes rang in the background as a cantor’s chanting could be heard in the distance and everyone who was seated rose.
They continued ringing as Peles’s casket was lowered into the ground, while IDF officers huddled around his parents and older twin sisters, who were sobbing in each other’s arms.
Peles’s sisters Leigh and Shani described the difficulty of accepting their brother is no longer with them.
“Last night, all your friends came over and, like every other time, I expected you to be there. I waited and waited and it didn’t happen,” one of the sisters said, and they both broke down crying.
“You will always be the sweet, beloved boy with the kind eyes, my little brother. You touched the hearts of everyone you met,” she added. “How are we supposed to continue our lives without seeing your smile or hearing your laugh or feeling your hug?” Nahal Reconnaissance Battalion Commander Lt.-Col. Manny Liberty said “Roy was a hero in his life and will remain a hero after his death.”
Liberty described a soldier and an officer who was modest and stood up for his values.
“I loved you. You’re the salt of the earth,” he said.
“Roy, my dear brother, I want to tell you what you couldn’t see. When the missile hit the house [in Gaza] in which you fought, I was a floor below you. You didn’t see how the staff kept its composure and continued to fight even after you were hit. They were brave because you believed in them and their abilities,” Liberty said.
“We are fighting a despicable enemy, but our unit is completing its missions and destroying Hamas,” the officer reassured mourners.
When Yahel spoke, she said Peles saw his army service as a mission to defend Israel.
“We are still here because of brave people like you. We will continue our lives, because nothing symbolizes love of life like you do,” she concluded.