Goldwasser, Regev laid to rest

Hoping they would be welcoming them home, the families found themselves instead eulogizing them.

Their farewell kiss was unremarkable. In July 2006, Karnit's husband, Ehud Goldwasser, was just a regular private citizen heading out for reserve duty. "Your embrace was warm. The kiss loving, but quick. The parting words were personal, but gave no hint of the new future that was about to occur," said Karnit as she looked out at the thousands of mourners who gathered in the Nahariya cemetery on Thursday morning to help her mourn her husband. It had not occurred to the young couple, who had been married less than a year, that this was the last time they would see each other, she said. "You left smiling. From your perspective, it was just one other day in which you were volunteering to serve your country. You weren't fearful," said Karnit. Eulogizing her husband one day short of what would have been his 33rd birthday, she went back to the fateful day of July 12, 2006, when time stopped. It was then that Hizbullah attacked a reserve patrol along the northern border at point 105, killing Ehud, known as "Udi," and Eldad Regev, among others. But because Hizbullah had taken the bodies, and returned them only on Wednesday, July 16, 2008, the families didn't know the fate of the two men until now. Hoping they would be welcoming them home, the families found themselves instead eulogizing them on Thursday in two separate funerals, one in Nahariya and the other in Haifa. In summing up the battle she and the families had undertaken to return the two men, Karnit said that on the day of the attack, "a journey began for you and me - for us, the family and for the entire country." She continued: "My love, they say that time heals and covers wounds. Is that so? Two years have passed since that one moment when, with a wave of a knife, the artery of our life together was cut. "That moment, the worst of all [moments], was turned into a horrible reality - a reality which sunk us all into a dark and complicated world." In publicizing their story, she said, "suddenly you belonged to everyone." "Now you and I move on to the next journey, the journey of my life. You will be a full partner in it, you will continue to be my inner voice, eternally young, accompanying me throughout my life. "It will be lived without you, but forever you will be there," said Karnit. "Please forgive me, my darling husband, for not [talking about] your many virtues here, those which accompanied me every step of the way during the struggle for your return. This isn't the place to do that," she added. So she did not speak of his love for music, photography, or the environment, or any of the attributes that had endeared him to her. "With your permission, I will make my personal farewell in my own time," Karnit said. His mother Miki was equally stoic. Removing her dark sunglasses to show her dry eyes, she said, "I will not cry here. I will save the crying for later." Speaking of the Second Lebanon War, which had also begun on that July day in 2006, she said that she hoped the country would eventually see it as a victory. "We have found this nation to be a wonderful nation. We have found bereaved families with superior mental fortitude; we have found generosity. We have found the spirit of volunteering, the meaning of the word friendship. This is an amazing nation," she continued. She took a moment to reflect on the family of missing airman Ron Arad, whose plane was shot down over Lebanon in 1986 and whose family has yet to discover his fate. Miki also thanked members of the family of slain policeman Eliyahu Shahar, who had been killed by Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar in 1979. Members of Shahar's family attended the funeral, even though Kuntar had been released as part of the deal with Hizbullah to return the bodies of Goldwasser and Regev. "In particular, I would like to salute a great woman who has been my inspiration by standing up to all horrors with her head held high - Smadar Haran," said Miki. Smadar Haran, whose husband, Danny, four-year-old daughter Einat and two-year-old daughter Yael were also killed in that attack, came to the funeral as well. In remarks made at each of the two funerals, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said "Israel will always act for the return of our soldiers; alive, wounded or dead. We will do everything reasonable that is possible, this is the covenant between the IDF and the Israeli people." He promised to do his utmost both to find out what happened to Ron Arad and to return St.-Sgt. Gilad Schalit, who has been held in Gaza by Hamas since June 2006. "We all dreamed about embracing them [the captured reservists] after two sad years," he said. "This is not the way we wanted to welcome you when we prayed: Thy children shall come again to their own border [Jeremiah 31:17]." In Haifa, Eldad's brother Ofer began his eulogy with a quote from a song by Israeli rock idol Shalom Hanoch: "A strange man, your enemy, exactly like you / You know he does not want to die, exactly like you." He said that these days, "We lived in a world where we believed our enemy was exactly like us. We thought we could speak to people who also wanted to raise a child, grow a flower, love a girl, exactly like us. But the enemy proved it is not like us. And still, we will not stop trying." Through his tears, he said that he stood in front of his brother's grave, "proud of my country, that fought [along] with me to bring you back, proud of every citizen who thought of you, Eldad, as his brother. I'm proud to belong to those who love and not to those who hate." Paraphrasing a famous saying by former prime minister David Ben-Gurion, often inscribed on the gates of military bases, Ofer said: "Every Hebrew mother should know that the fate of her sons, even if they are taken hostage, lies in the hands of commanders who will not rest and never give up until they return." He said that Eldad had been a "man of many talents, a lover of literature and soccer. A true patriot both on the front lines and in everyday life, during reserve duty or in the volunteer work you carried out." Regev's other brother, Eyal, recounted how on Remembrance Day 2006, two months and 12 days before his capture, Eldad had written: 'Maybe there is eventual comfort and hope, and remembrance and faith are not for nothing.' •