Maj. Eliraz Peretz, 31, deputy commander of the Golani Brigade’s 12th Battalion, was laid to rest Sunday, two days after he and St.-Sgt. Maj. Ilan Sviatkovsky were killed during combat with Palestinian gunmen in the southern Gaza Strip, near Khan Yunis.Thousands attended the funeral procession, which began at Givat Ze'ev's Darchei Noam synagogue and continued to the capital's Mount Herzl cemetery.Peretz led a force into Gaza 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. Sviatkovsky was then shot and killed as well.Related: 'No mother wants her son to die'Analysis: Is Israel’s deterrence losing steam?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, Avichai, participated in Operation Cast Lead last year.Standing between the graves of her two slain sons,Peretz's tearful mother Miriam said, “What shall I do now, you were my strength, you werethe one always encouraging me, helping me go on."
Avichai stressed that his brother "did not go to the army to take the lives of others, but to allow ourlife as a people to go on."
To his mother he added, "Do not cry, foryour labor has not been in vain."Golani Brigade commander Col. (Res.) Avi Peled also eulogized Peretz, saying he was a “fearless” soldier who was always at the front of his troops.He said Peretz was a man “for whom the love of the country and its soldiers were a top priority.”“We are dismayed that you Eliraz, who was saved so many times, got hit,” said Peled. “But on the other hand, you were the one who always led the attacks. That’s how you were educated and grew up. Your love for your family and wife Shlomit was huge. But despite all the risks, you continued doing your duty.”