Paskal’s last wish was for Schalit to come home, widow says

Peres visits families of victims, praises courage of security personnel who sacrificed their lives for others.

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August 21, 2011 13:50
3 minute read.
President Peres visiting family of Moshe Naftali

President Peres visiting family of Moshe Naftali 311. (photo credit: Mark Neiman / GPO)

 
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The courage and dedication of Moshe and Paskal saved countless lives, President Shimon Peres said on Sunday to the families of IDF St.-Sgt.Moshe Naftali, 22, and Israel Police Chief Warrant Officer Paskal Avrahami, 49.

The two men died on Thursday while fighting Palestinians who had attacked civilian vehicles in the South.

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Peres first went to Ofra to express his condolences to Naftali’s family. The president embraced the Golani Brigade warrior’s immediate relatives and told them that their beloved Moshe represented the values of dedication and love for his country, and that he served Israel with courage and was willing to lay down his life for the nation’s security and the safety of her citizens.

Aware of Naftali’s religious background and his yeshiva high school education, Peres said the fallen soldier took the wisdom he had accumulated into his final battle. The president said that he realized how hard it was to raise a young man and to lose him in the full bloom of his youth. The whole nation empathizes with the family, and bows its head, Peres said.

Naftali’s parents, Yosef and Shulamit, said they had just begun to reap the fruit of everything that they had invested in their son when he was taken from them and killed in battle.

They could not envisage what life would be like without him, but despite their grief they were tremendously appreciative of the president’s visit and of the outpouring of affection they received from the public.

The visit to the family of Avrahami, the most veteran and a highly respected sniper in the elite Yamam counterterrorism unit of the police, was much more emotional. Peres again embraced each member of the immediate family, but when he came face to face with Avrahami’s widow Sima, she burst into tears, fell into the president’s arms, and clung to him for consolation for several long minutes. Peres told the family that it had been his privilege to meet Paskal Avrahami, some half a year ago during a visiting with his police force, and he had been deeply impressed by his personality, his professionalism and his dedication to duty. He had been equally impressed by Avrahami’s uncanny accuracy, when the latter had put on a sniper show for him to see.



“Paskal told me about his family, about his emigration from France, about his volunteerism and about how he felt about Israel,” recalled Peres.

“He was a man of great courage, but he was also modest, even though he was a legend of his time.”

Avrahami’s commander told Peres that with Paskal’s death “we have lost a living symbol.”

Sima Avrahami told Peres that in the last few days of his life, Avrahami had found it difficult to fall asleep. When she asked him what was troubling him, he said he could not stop thinking about captured solider Gilad Schalit, and what he wanted most was to see him come home.

“Paskal was killed. He won’t be coming back,” said Sima. “I beg you to at least bring back Gilad, because that was Paskal’s last wish.”

Upon leaving the Avrahami household, Peres said in relation to the escalation of rocket attacks from Gaza, “This is a difficult testing time for us, but it’s not the first time that we have been tested, and the people of Israel know to unite in the face of such incidents. The residents of the South are under constant threat, and are behaving in a quiet, disciplined fashion, without giving way to hysteria. I salute them.”

Peres was confident that the residents of the South know that the IDF is doing all that is possible to defend them, and knows how to deal with any and every threat.

Peres also related to current tensions in relations between Israel and Egypt and said that peace was a matter of strategic importance to both countries.

Sinai must remain a center of peace and tourism, he said, emphasizing that it cannot be ruled by extremists and terrorists.

Peres also voiced regret over the deaths of Egyptian soldiers who were shot while Israel was retaliating against the terrorist onslaught near Eilat, and expressed his condolences and those of the nation to the families of the victims.

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