'You were not killed in vain'

Hundreds of mourners gather to pay last respects to IDF Staff Sergeant Sayaf Bisan killed in Gaza Wednesday.

IDF soldiers gaza 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
IDF soldiers gaza 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Hundreds of mourners gathered in the tiny Druse village of Jatt, east of Acre, on Wednesday evening to pay their last respects to St.-Sgt. Sayef Bisan, 21, who was killed in Gaza that morning. Bisan served in the Golani Brigade's Egoz unit, which was sent into Gaza to stem Palestinian sniper and mortar fire on Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha. The special-forces soldiers encountered short-range enemy fire. Bisan died of his wounds before he could be airlifted to Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba. Members of the Egoz unit sobbed quietly as they unloaded their comrade's flag-draped coffin from an IDF truck. "You did not die in vain," Egoz commander Lt.-Col. Yaniv Asor said, looking at the coffin. "You led a fight against terrorists in Gaza that will decide the security of southern Israel. The unit crossed back into Israel this morning at the break of dawn - it was difficult to come back without you. You were the spirit of the unit." The peaceful hills around the village echoed with a salute fired by an IDF honor guard. "He grew up in a Zionist family - his father was the founder of the Druse Zionist movement," said Bisan's uncle, Karim Nadin. "He strived to join an elite unit since he was a teenager, and prepared himself mentally and physically. In the unit, he excelled as a soldier, and many youths from the village looked up to him as a role model," Nadin said. "He was known as the 'nice kibbutznik' because of his tall stature and warm smile." "I once asked him if he was not afraid of being killed in Gaza. He replied that he preferred to die in Gaza or Lebanon than to be stabbed to death in a club or be killed in a car accident," Nadin said. Bisan was in Jatt last weekend on leave, and updated his friends on what he was doing in Gaza, but spared his parents so as not to worry them, the uncle said. "The whole village is in shock. People here haven't grasped what has happened," he said. Bisan was scheduled to complete his compulsory service in November, but planned to pursue a career in the IDF. At 6:30 a.m., the IDF sent a representative to the village to inform Bisan's parents of their son's death. His mother answered the door, and became the first to learn the bitter news. Bisan's father was at work, and was notified soon thereafter. Bisan also leaves behind two brothers and two sisters.