“There is no logic that you will miss our kids starting first grade, bat mitzva and weddings,” said in bewilderment Michal Keidar, the widow of Lt.-Col. Dolev Keidar, at the funeral of the highest- ranking IDF officer to fall in combat since 2011.
Keidar’s Modi’in funeral was attended by Defense Ministry Director-General and former deputy IDF chief Dan Harel, at least four generals, former IDF spokesman Brig.-Gen. (res.) Avi Benayahu, the IDF chief rabbi, the mayors of Kfar Saba and Modi’in and around 1000 attendees.
Keidar was killed early on Monday along with three soldiers under his command, when his vehicle was hit by a Hamas anti-tank missile in an ambush when Hamas fighters emerged from a tunnel on the northern Gaza border.
Ten of his assailants, possibly all of them, were subsequently killed by a retaliatory strike.
The fact that the war is ongoing was clear to everyone at the funeral, with multiple public service announcements for everyone to take cover in case of a rocket attack playing throughout.
Michal’s emotions were high throughout but she rarely broke down, while Dolev’s parents, Eliyahu and Drorit, as well as other family members and attendees, broke down numerous times throughout the ceremony.
Michal spoke of her husband, asking, “how can I eulogize you when you always gave me the right words to say?” Openly holding back emotion to try to maintain decorum, Harel, who normally is not given to public emotion, said that “everything went silent when I heard” that Keidar had died.
Harel continued to say what an exemplary chief of staff Dolev had been for him when Harel was deputy chief of the IDF, adding, “I have no answer to this, only shock” and “a giant hole in my heart.”
One of Keidar’s close commanders, Col. Ofer Levi, apologized that Keidar’s “soldiers could not be here,” adding they are still on the front fighting to defend Israeli citizens.
Levi also let his guard down, and said with a shaky voice that “it is hard to imagine speaking to you in past tense and not about your brilliant future” as someone who would rise to the highest echelons of the IDF.
Keidar’s three children, Maya, Uri and Guy, did not appear to be present, but they were mentioned by all of the speakers.
Michal, in a film she produced a few years ago, interviewed her children at the time about the difficulties of growing up with a father who they only saw around once every two weeks due to his military service.
The ceremony included a range of mourning prayers and psalms by the IDF chief rabbi, an IDF cantor and Dolev’s father, Eliyahu, who broke into tears near the end.
Keidar’s aunt called his death “a bad movie.” Unfortunately, with fighting only increasing in Gaza, it is a movie that may not be over soon.