Ashkenazi places flag on Peretz grave

IDF chief visits grave of last fallen soldier before Remembrance Day.

April 14, 2010 15:32
2 minute read.
IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi

ashkenazi GOOD 311. (photo credit: IDF Spokesperson)

IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi on Wednesday opened memorial events ahead of Monday's Remembrance Day for Fallen Soldiers by placing an Israel flag on the grave of the last soldier to be killed in combat, Major Eliraz Peretz.

Peretz, deputy commander of the Golani Brigade’s 12th Battalion, lost his life in a battle with gunmen in Gaza last month.

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"Here, between the thousands of gravestones and silent tombs, testimony to 62 years of struggle for our freedom as a nation and a state, we stand, year after year, in honor of the memory of our sons and daughters, whose song of life was muted prematurely and thanks to whose sacrifice the people of Israel can celebrate the gift of liberty and security in their own state," he said after visiting the grave site on Mount Herzl. "I have just made my way to a nearby plot, where lie the remains of the most recent fallen soldier brought to rest on Mount Herzl, Major Eliraz Peretz, may his memory be blessed, and together with his mother Miriam and his widow Shlomit, laid the flag of the country in whose name he embarked on his last mission."

Peretz led a force into the Strip after two Palestinians were spotted laying improvised explosive devices near the border security fence. During the ensuing fire exchange, a grenade in Peretz’s vest was hit by a bullet and exploded, killing him and wounding two of his soldiers.  St.-Sgt. Maj. Ilan Sviatkovsky was then shot and killed as well.

Peretz’s brother, Lt. Uriel Peretz, 22, of Givat Ze’ev, was killed by a Hizbullah bomb along with St.-Sgt. Nitzan Balderan, 19, of Kibbutz Lotem, on November 25, 1998, when the IDF was still deployed in the security zone in south Lebanon. Both men were in the Golani Brigade. The family has another brother serving in Golani Battalion 13. The third brother participated in Operation Cast Lead last year.

"6338830, Major Eliraz Eliyahu Peretz. Son of Eliezer and Miriam, 1978 to 2010. Fell in battle in the Gaza Strip," continued Ashkenazi." Only a name and a number – an age and a date carved on the gravestone in black letters – but behind the small letters – stands the figure of a brave deputy battalion commander who always led from the front and who fell first in line. The loving father and husband, the bereaved brother who chose to walk the path of his sibling Uriel, may he rest in peace, and who kept to his brother’s values – the values of Zionism, service in the IDF, camaraderie and faith - and who was buried, sadly, next to his brother."

"Dear families, this flag, which will be laid at the graves of thousands of soldiers around the country, is the same flag which is lowered to half-mast on Remembrance Day, that flies from windows ahead of Independence Day and that covers our soldiers' remains on their last path – as they are lowered into their graves," said the chief of staff." This flag symbolizes the people of Israel’s aspiration to a national home, the hope to be a liberated nation in our own country and the heavy price we have paid and continue to pay to turn this prayer into the reality of our lives."

He went on to say that securing the country and maintaining an IDF "sharp, ready and able," was the guarantee that Israel would continue fending off war and winning the battles forced upon it.

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