Ashkenazi places flag on Peretz grave

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

ashkenazi GOOD 311 (photo credit: IDF Spokesperson)
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.
"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, 1978to 2010. Fell in battle in the Gaza Strip," continued Ashkenazi." Onlya name and a number – an age and a date carved on the gravestone inblack letters – but behind the small letters – stands the figure of abrave deputy battalion commander who always led from the front and whofell first in line. The loving father and husband, the bereaved brotherwho 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, servicein the IDF, camaraderie and faith - and who was buried, sadly, next tohis brother."
"Dear families, this flag, which will be laid at the graves ofthousands of soldiers around the country, is the same flag which islowered to half-mast on Remembrance Day, that flies from windows aheadof Independence Day and that covers our soldiers' remains on their lastpath – as they are lowered into their graves," said the chief ofstaff." This flag symbolizes the people of Israel’s aspiration to anational home, the hope to be a liberated nation in our own country andthe heavy price we have paid and continue to pay to turn this prayerinto 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 continuefending off war and winning the battles forced upon it.