Cpl. Yosef Fartuk could easily have skipped out on doing army service. The son
of an ultra-Orthodox family who lived in the Emanuel settlement, the expected
path in his community would have been to go to yeshiva and get an exemption from
serving in the IDF.
But Fartuk insisted on being inducted, despite his
He was five months into his service in the 7th
Armored Brigade when a mortar shell killed him on a base in the Eshkol region,
not far from the Gaza Strip, on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, Fartuk, 18, was
buried in the Givat Shaul Cemetery in Jerusalem, in a funeral attended by a wide
mix of Israelis: Young and old. Religious and secular. Soldiers and students.
Settlers and citydwellers.
“Yossi!” the soldier’s father, Avraham, cried
out as his son’s body was lowered into the ground and mourners from the
immediate family began to toss shovelfuls of soil into the grave, in accordance
with Jewish tradition.
Women stood on highperched levels at a significant
distance from the grave, from which they could only hear Avraham’s cry, the
shoveling of the earth and the sounds of kaddish, the prayer for the
Fartuk’s mother, Amalia, stood on the road far above the gravesite
fighting back tears, surrounded by other women and held up by her teenage
It wasn’t just that Fartuk, one of eight children,
insisted on being drafted and serving in a combat unit. He’d left the haredi
lifestyle several years earlier, but continued to identify as a religious
soldier – one of the few in his unit. He appeared to be keen to be sent into
Gaza, and posted messages on his Facebook page to that effect, including: “Gaza,
I’m on my way.”
Several people interviewed at the funeral, as well as
interviews on several Israeli websites, indicated that Fartuk had been hoping
for a ground invasion of Gaza. “They should either send us in or send us home,”
he wrote in one Facebook post.
His commanding officer, who could only be
identified as Amitai, said that Fartuk was one of the most promising young
soldiers in his unit and was given an award for outstanding behavior during
“He was always first, up front. He worried about others’
needs, and I never once heard him complain. He was an excellent soldier, and had
he lived, he would have received a very important assignment,” the officer
Fartuk’s parents, known as Avi and Amali, did not start out as
religious, and had met at Kibbutz Magen in the Eshkol region – the same area
where their son was mortally wounded on Tuesday. After marrying, the couple
decided to become Breslov Hassidim and moved to Mea She’arim in
Afterward they moved to Emanuel in Samaria.
their old, secular friends from their childhood and from their army days – Avi
grew up in Beersheba and Amali in Holon – were present at the
“They are very good people, but in these days, with all the
news, I’m worried that they will be forgotten,” said Yitzhak Brand, a family
friend who used to live near them in Emanuel. “In these tragedies, the people of
Israel must come together.”
The family has more than once been touched by
war and terrorism. Amali’s father, Shlomo, was seriously wounded in the Park
Hotel bombing in Netanya in March 2002.
“Even when he was a young
teenager, when he was still wearing his peyot [side-curls], he was saying that he
wanted to serve the state,” Miri Ozeri, a neighbor, said of Yosef. “I can
remember once getting off the bus with a lot of heavy things, and he insisted on
helping me with them. He was the kind who wanted to help.”
a relative who left the rain of rockets on Beersheba Wednesday to come to the
funeral, listened to the sounds of her cousin being buried and expressed hope
that a cease-fire would be reached – and would stick.
continue this way,” sighed Fartuk, who said the family name had come with them
from Tunisia. “With a ground operation in Gaza there would only be more and more
losses like this, so a ceasefire is our only hope – for now.”