UPDATE 9 am Israel time Saturday:
Friday saw a terrorist missile launched from Gaza against southern Israel, and a potentially devastating terror attack from the Sinai against southern Israelis stopped by the bravery of IDF soldiers of the Artillery Corps and Karkal Battalion (the Karkals, “Wildcats”, consist of male and female soldiers) .
What can you say about Netanel Yahalomi?
That he was young man just beginning his life? That he was a passionate Zionist who was in love with his country? That he was a Jew who was deeply religious? That he was a profoundly compassionate human being who always tried to help others? That he came from a loving family whom he loved dearly?
Netanel Yahalomi was precisely the kind of man that the Israeli leftist media and international media like to falsely vilify as a “right-wing religious extremist”. In truth, Netanel Yahalomi was a 20 year old religious soldier of the Artillery Corps who was shot in the head yesterday while trying to give water to fifteen African migrants who were attempting to cross the Egyptian-Israeli border into Israel.
Netanel could have played it safe and stayed in his security post. But when he and his fellow soldiers of the Artillery Corps and Karkals saw the Africans suffering in the heat, they decided to help them.
Netanel never knew what hit him. Lying in ambush on the Egyptian side of the border, at a distance of 100 meters, were three Muslim terrorists dressed in civilian clothing and heavily armed with RPD machine guns, RPGs, Kalashnikovs, grenades, and bombs–and wearing “suicide bomb belts”.
Netanel was hit in the first fusillade and died immediately.
A few hours later, just before Shabbat, IDF representatives and the community rabbi of Nof Ayalon arrived at the Yahalomi family’s home.
The family’s words tell the story.
Shmuel Yahalomi, Netanel’s father could barely talk through his tears: “Netanel was born in Bnei Brak, and then we moved to Nof Ayalon. He was a Torah student at the Mitzpe Yeriho Yeshiva. He insisted on serving in a combat unit and joined the Artillery Corps, where I also served. He used to study Torah even on his vacations.”
Netanel’s mother, Tova, was unable to speak with reporters but her daughter Avital said that her mother had spoken with Netanel on the phone on Thursday, and he told her that he had received a package she had made for him with cooked food and sweets.
Another one of Netanel’s five siblings said that Netanel was “a smart and successful guy, and helped everyone in whichever way he could.”
But it was Avital again who so eloquently expressed the feelings of the family–and the feelings of every family who has ever lost a son or a daughter in Israel’s struggle to survive:
“He went to defend the State and land. That is what he fought and was killed for. He died so we could live here. It was not an unnecessary death. God will give us the power to cope.”
One hour from now, Netanel Yahalomi will be buried with full military honors. As Avital Yahalomi so rightly said, “He died so we could live here.”
Yesterday’s attack took place in the one area in which the long Sinai fence has yet to be completed–a 17 km mountainous stretch of terrain that runs through the Negev Mountains near Har Harif (Mt. Harif). It is scheduled to be finished by late October.
In the ensuing firefight, members of Netanel’s Artillery group, combined with Karkals and undercover Border Guards, killed all three terrorists who carried out the attack. One other soldier was lightly wounded when an explosive vest worn by a terrorist exploded.
***Your humble servant would like to acknowledge the Jerusalem Post, Yediot Aharonot, and Haaretz for elements of today’s blog and for two of the pictures included.
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