“How do you tell a mother and father their son won’t return home,” asked Immigration and Absorption Minister Sofa Landver at the funeral in Jerusalem of St.-Sgt Moshe Malko, who was killed during IDF operations in the Shejaia neighborhood in Gaza on Sunday morning.
Under the clear blue sky at Mount Herzl military cemetery, Moshe, 20, was brought to his final resting place amid terrible scenes of grief and loss so clearly felt by his family, friends and comrades who came to pay their final respects.
As the funeral procession drew closer to the burial site, the prayers of the military chaplain grew louder as did the cries of Moshe’s mother, and his family’s upon seeing the coffin in which he was brought, shrouded in the flag of Israel.
Moshe’s mother was inconsolable and his siblings wept freely, one brother shaking his head in disbelief.
“My Moshiko, my life, my crowning glory, the joy of my life,” cried Esther his sister as she eulogized him at the funeral.
“In life and death you were the first. There are angels here on earth and angels in heaven and you are now one of the most special angels in heaven.
“We were fortunate, all your family and friends, to know a man with a true and pure heart, a heart that loved,” she said of her brother.
“God, please don’t take another one from us, another one from the Jewish people,” she wept.
She continued on with difficulty, trying and failing to hold back her tears, with words of comfort for other bereaved families.
“Don’t think their blood was shed in vain, she said.
“They are heroes. They have fallen with self-sacrifice as martyrs for the Land of Israel and the Torah of Israel and for the People of Israel.
“Remember that in the merit of unity and brotherly love all pain that comes upon us will be ended and we will be redeemed,” she said in conclusion.
Soldiers from the Golani brigade who formed the honor guard for their comrade Moshe wept at Esther’s words, as did many of the hundreds of assembled mourners who gathered at the funeral.
Among them was Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, who gave a eulogy for the fallen soldier who lived with his family in the Neve Yaakov neighborhood of northern Jerusalem.
The mayor described Moshe as an outstanding example for the Ethiopian community from which he comes, “a beloved Jerusalemite by everyone who knew you.”
Barkat said that Moshe was a partner and an activist within the community and told of how his teachers had described him as a pupil who always smiled, was surrounded by friends and was a polite and pleasant young man.
“Moshe, you gave your life defending the State of Israel in a war that is totally just,” said Barkat. “We the citizens of Israel and in particular the residents of Jerusalem know well that in the merit of your sacrifice and that of your friends we are able to continue the religious commandment of building Jerusalem.
“We cry over our dead and embrace the bereaved families among us. We want peace, but along side this we will fight with strength to defend ourselves and the justness of our path. Our spirit will never flag, we will continue to pursue our enemies and cut them down, and send them a clear and simple message, we are here forever.”
Moshe was killed along with six other soldiers from the Golani’s 13th Battalion when an Armored Personnel Carrier carrying the troops drove over an explosive device and caught fire.
Yosef Hailo, Moshe’s brotherin- law, described him as “a courageous young man,” who was always ready to support others.
“Moshe loved to help others, but especially his family,” Yosef told The Jerusalem Post.
“He would do everything for others, he’d always volunteer for any task that needed doing, you could always get help from him.”
Yosef said that Moshe’s older brother was murdered several years ago and that the crime had never been solved, saying that the psychological wound from this incident was still prevalent in the family and is now compounded by Moshe’s death.
“Because of the pain of his brother’s murder he always wanted to cheer up his other brothers and sisters, and make them laugh,” Yosef continued.
“He himself was always laughing, he didn’t get annoyed or moody, and he always had a smile on his face.”
Moshe would help out paying the household bills and wished to advance in the army and gain a senior rank in order to help his family.
He last spoke with his mother on Friday and in keeping with his character remained upbeat and told her that everything would be OK.
Yosef said that the family wanted to the Jewish people to be strong in these difficult times and to keep fighting for the country.