1000 attend funeral for Lt. Binamo, who prevented Hanukka festivities bombing.
By JPOST.COM STAFF
As family and friends mourned the killing of 21-year-old IDF officer Lt. Uri Binamo, politicians and security officials credited the young officer with saving the lives of Israeli civilians by stopping a suicide bomber who reportedly planned to explode at children's Hanuka festivities in Israel.
Binamo, whose funeral began at 11 a.m. in Haifa's military cemetery, was a platoon commander in the Nahshon Battalion. At the funeral, his father read a letter that Uri had written at the age of 14, in which he expressed his hope that all of the people of the world could become friends and live in peace. Comrades spoke of him as the most loved platoon commander in the battalion, who brought a sewing machine to his base in order to repair his soldiers' torn uniforms.
On Thursday, Binamo and his soldiers set up a temporary checkpoint near the settlement of Avnei Hefetz after IDF forces in the area received an intelligence tip that terrorists were planning to cross the Green Line and attack Hanukka festivities.
When his troops stopped a Palestinian taxi at the checkpoint, Lt. Binamo, from the northern town of Nesher, took the lead in approaching the taxi and told the occupants to get out of the vehicle.
The three Palestinian men inside complied with the order, but once out of the taxi, one of them lifted his shirt to reveal a 10-kilogram suicide belt. He then detonated the belt, killing himself, the Palestinian taxi driver, a second passenger in the taxi and Binamo.
Three soldiers and seven Palestinians were also wounded in the blast.
Lt. Einat Bing, the slain officer's girlfriend, who was stationed in the area, heard the report of the attack over the field radio. She immediately tried to call Binamo on his mobile phone but could not reach him.
"He didn't answer, and I understood [what had happened]," she said.
Binamo will be laid to rest at 11 a.m. Friday at the military cemetery in Haifa.
The three soldiers covering the officer as he made his approach were wounded.
The most seriously injured soldier was taken to Hillel Yaffe Hospital in Hadera, where he underwent vascular surgery. His condition remained serious Friday afternoon, over 24 hours after the attack.
The other two soldiers were lightly wounded by shrapnel and transferred to Meir Hospital in Kfar Saba, where one may have to undergo surgery on his hand.
One of the Palestinians killed in the bombing was an innocent bystander. The other was the suicide bomber's guide, OC Efraim Territorial Brigade Col. Aharon Haliba told the Post. "So I would say that two terrorists were killed, since the man who was bringing him to Israel is just as much a terrorist as the suicide bomber," Haliba said.
Dr. Hussam al-Taneeb, the director of the Dr. Thabet Thabet Hospital in Tulkarm, said that seven Palestinian civilians, including a four-year-old child, were also wounded.
Security sources told The Jerusalem Post that there have been 50 general terror warnings and more than 10 specific alerts in the past two weeks
Binamo was supposed to have received a promotion in another two months, including an advancement to the position of lieutenant company commander.
"This is a terrible loss to the IDF," said Col. Aharon Haliwa, the commander of the Ephraim Brigade, the sector in which the attack took place. "This was an officer who was loved and very professional. He carried out his role, and saved - with his body - the lives of dozens of innocent civilians."
Binamo's family spoke Thursday of a young man who, as a child, loved flowers and hikes around Israel with his family. They said that he enjoyed every minute of his military service. "He knew that the area of Tulkarm was the most dangerous sector, but he was determined to reach a goal," Binamo's father said. "This was a boy who would use his leaves - instead of going home - to travel around the country to his soldiers' houses to check and see that everything was alright. His soldiers simply loved him in a remarkable manner."
"We, as parents, as people to whom the country is often more important to them than their own private house is, understood that this could happen, but we would never have wanted this," said the parents, explaining that in their house, helping the community was a basic value.
Binado was supposed to have been featured on Army Radio Thursday, as part of the annual "Shirutrom" event, raising money for the IDF Soldiers' Welfare Association.
Bing, who had been Binado's girlfriend for the past nine years, said that he had called her earlier that morning, telling her to listen to the radio broadcast. "Soon you'll hear me on the radio," he said.
When the recording staff arrived at Binado's base near Tulkarm, the battalion sergeant-major greeted them with tears in his eyes and informed them of the tragedy.