Thousands pay tribute to Yousef Moadi, who was killed by friendly fire.
By BRENDA GAZZAR
It was 2 a.m. on December 29 when Druse soldier Yousef Moadi of Haifa sent his close friends a text message, only minutes before he and his combat unit entered the Gaza Strip.
One week later, that message became a final farewell.
"My brothers: Just wanted to let you know that I love you and there is no one like you," the message read.
That was the last time Guy Faran, also of Haifa, heard from "Yossi," whom he has known since first grade.
Cpl. Moadi, whose rank was elevated after his death, was one of the three soldiers from the Golani Brigade who were killed by friendly fire near the Jabaliya refugee camp on Monday during the ground phase of Operation Cast Lead.
"They say it happens in every battle and in every war, but it's the first time that it is so close and why does it have to be him?" Faran, fighting back tears, asked on Tuesday after the funeral.
"There are so many soldiers there. Why does it have to be Yossi? He was too good."
Crowded into the main plaza and surrounding rooftops of the Druse village of Yirka, thousands of friends, relatives and comrades from around the country paid tribute Tuesday to the fallen 19-year-old soldier.
Family and friends remembered Moadi, the eldest of three children, as a happy, energetic and ambitious young man, the natural product of a warm and loving family.
He "danced with his soul" and had friends of all ages, they said.
"He was a young man full of life wisdom, full of life, all the time smiling and with friends," his father Samir Moadi said, after the funeral. "He simply loved to live."
His uncle Wahid Moadi agreed.
"I don't recall him ever saying a word that was not appropriate," he told The Jerusalem Post.
One of Moadi's dreams was to become a high-ranking officer in the IDF, which is why he chose to become a Golani fighter, his uncle said.
But Wahid Moadi said he hopes that his nephew did not die in vain.
"I want to believe that this will be the last dead soldier," he said.
"I want to believe that his death will bring peace - peace and security - so we can live quietly without problems, not just for Israel and the Palestinians, but for all the Middle Eastâ€¦. Enough of people being killed."
Moadi is survived by his mother Wafa Halabi, his father, his brother Amir and sister Deema. Moadi's father is the nephew of former MK Jabber Moadi of Yirka.
Amit Barakeh, 27, also of Yirka, took the day off from reserve duty to pay tribute to a colleague.
Barakeh served two years in the Gaza Strip and in recent days, has been stationed with his combat unit at the fence bordering the Hamas-controlled territory.
Moadi's death "scares me a little", he said.
"I don't know if I will go in again, and if I go in, whether I will come out."
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