Written by The Lekarev Report
July 17, 2008
I shall walk before Hashem in the lands of the living. I trusted even when I said: 'I am greatly afflicted.' Psalm 116:9-10
Sergeant Major Ehud Goldwasser, who was kidnapped near the border with Lebanon over two years ago, was buried about an hour ago at the Nahariya Military Cemetery. Thousands arrived at the cemetery this morning, to pay their respects to the slain soldier and to his family.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak eulogized Goldwasser. Speaking to the IDF soldiers present he said, "If any of you, G-d forbid, should be captured, or should anything worse happen in the fight against the terror organization - the State of Israel, its government, and the IDF will do everything just and possible to bring you home."
Turning to the families, the defense minister said, "We are burying in Israeli soil the IDF warrior, Udi, your loved one, our loved one. We are adopting you into our hearts. The journey of pain is over; the never-ending journey of memory and grief begins. Our hearts are heavy but we stand tall before the caskets of our soldiers."
Goldwasser's mother, Miki, said: "I won't cry, not now. I stand at attention before you with my eyes lifted towards my people with the request: Stand tall, lift your heads in national pride." While Karnit, Ehud's wife and the rest of the family were drenched in tears of grief, the mother remained surprisingly resilient. "I will not cry here. I will save the crying for later," she said.
Ehud's parents and his young widow, Karnit, are seen in this photo taken during the funeral proceedings. His father is wearing a torn T-shirt which is a custom in Judaism in which a man rends his garments after the death of a love done.
To the amazement of many, Goldwasser's widow, Karnit, was the last to speak. She said in her eulogy that "on July 12, at 9:06, time stopped. A journey began for both of us - you and me - us and the family, the State and you. You and I are going on to the next journey, the journey of my life. You will continue to be my inner voice, an eternally young man who will accompany me throughout my entire life.
"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," Karnit continued. "That moment, the worst of all [moments], was turned into a horrible reality; a reality which forced all of us to sink into a dark and complicated world."
"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. "With your permission, the personal farewell I'll do on my own time," Karnit said.
An Amazing Young Woman
Yesterday, the wife of captured IDF soldier Ehud Goldwasser, Karnit, received the tragic news she had feared for over two years, that her husband would not be coming home alive.
Though she didn't address the press on Wednesday, since Goldwasser and Regev's abduction in 2006, Karnit has been a symbol and leader of the international campaign to return the soldiers, in the process becoming a courageous and inspiring figure for many.
After the soldiers were returned home to Israel Wednesday, Karnit came to the Sharga Army Base to spend time with her family and her husband Ehud.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert first visited the tent where Eldad Regev's casket was placed, hugged his brother, and wiped away tears. Afterwards he walked to Ehud Goldwasser's coffin and warmly embraced his widow Karnit Goldwasser and other relatives. Psalms were read in both tents and the Kaddish mourning prayer was recited; Goldwasser's aunt also read a farewell letter she wrote.
"It was an event where the eyes did the talking, not the mouth," IDF Spokesman Avi Benayahu said later. "Each family sat alone for long minutes, cried, and caressed the coffins. Karnit's mother read out a letter she wrote to Udi earlier. It was touching and very painful. The army chief saluted both coffins."
Meanwhile, Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi sent a letter to all IDF soldiers, telling them that "today we are biting our lips, yet at the same time we are holding our heads high as a nation and as an army that are committed to the values of Judaism and to the special codes of Israeli society."
"The supreme value of the sanctity of life and mutual responsibility are entrenched in our national and social psyche," the army chief wrote. "They are nobly expressed in the IDF every day, even when the price is high, we will remain committed to our values and beliefs, which distinguish the IDF and the people of Israel, and in this moral context too we shall be worthy of serving as a 'light unto the nations.'"
Murderer Turned "Hero"
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, our so-called "peace partner", congratulated the family of Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar, freed by Israel yesterday in exchange for the bodies of our kidnapped soldiers. Abbas welcomed the swap and congratulated the families of the "liberated prisoners."
Kuntar has been imprisoned in Israel since 1979, after he carried out one of the grisliest attacks in Israeli history - killing a father in front of his 4-year-old daughter, and then killing the little girl by crushing her skull with his rifle butt.
In Gaza, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh hailed Kuntar as "a great hero" and said Israel's decision to release him and four Hezbollah fighters undermined Israel's policy of not freeing "prisoners with blood on their hands." He called the deal "a victory" for Hezbollah. "The Israelis should pay the price for the release of Gilad Shalit," Haniya said.
People celebrated in the streets of Gaza, and handed out sweets in support of Hezbollah. "Today is a great victory for the resistance movements and for Hezbollah, said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri. "It shows that the only successful way to free the prisoners is by kidnapping soldiers.
Lebanese President Michel Suleiman in an official ceremony addressed as 'freed heroes' the five Lebanese prisoners freed by Israel. Prime Minister Fuad Saniora and members of major political factions, including Hezbollah's rivals, also welcomed them on a red carpet with an honor guard.
Israeli President Shimon Peres, who pardoned Kuntar but said he did not "forget or forgive what he did", compared the solemn behavior of Israelis, mourning the two Israel Defense Forces soldiers with what he called Lebanese "dancing and drumming."
"I watch and hear what is happening on both sides of the barricade. The heads of states, heads of Hezbollah are dancing and drumming before welcoming Kuntar - the murderer who with his rifle's butt smashed the skull of Einat, of blessed memory, who was four years old, and who shot her father in cold blood. In Israel, the people are crying. Today we are all the Goldwasser and Regev families."
The Lebanese government declared Wednesday a national holiday to celebrate the "liberation of prisoners from the jails of the Israeli enemy and the return of the remains of martyrs." Israel also handed over almost 200 bodies of Palestinian terrorists and Lebanese fighters, including the woman who masterminded the Coastal Road Massacre.
Knesset Members Slam Prisoner Exchange
While Israeli legislators tried to continue with business as usual yesterday, Members of the Knesset who opposed the prisoner exchange from the beginning continued to argue that the deal had only served to weaken Israel.
"This deal could have been made two years ago without a war that resulted in the deaths of almost 160 Israelis," Likud MK Silvan Shalom said. "The release of [terrorist Samir] Kuntar is a mistake that springs from the government's weakness and will make the chances for releasing [kidnapped IDF soldier] Gilad Schalit much more difficult, as Hamas will now demand an even higher price."
Environmental Protection Minister Gideon Ezra (Kadima), a former Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) assistant director, said: "I hope that now the people of Israel understand that we have an enemy who only understands force, and that the only way of getting to any conclusion with them is force and deterrence. I hope that now the world understands what a cruel enemy stands before us."
MK Yisrael Hasson (Israel Beiteinu), who was also a former Shin Bet assistant director, told Jerusalem Radio: "When a Hizbullah representative refuses to say whether they're alive or dead a second before they take out the coffins, this is cruel entertainment. They will pay the price.
"None of them will be absolved. Whoever bathed in Jewish blood, whoever attacked the honor and independence of the State of Israel, will not be able to tell their grandchildren anything, because they will never get to that stage. I have no doubt that Nasrallah will not die a natural death. The State of Israel will settle its accounts with him. He knows that better than we do," Hasson said.
MK Arye Eldad (National Union/National Religious Party) called for an immediate attack against Hizbullah.
"After the bodies have been returned, Israel can change the victory celebrations in Lebanon to a mass funeral," he said shortly after it became clear that both reservists Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev were being returned in coffins. "The IAF can today complete the work that they didn't manage to get done during the war."
MK Effi Eitam (NU/NRP) criticized the government for failing to establish clear red lines in its policy, leading to poor decision-making under pressure.
We Know the World Doesn't Understand
Herb Keinon has posted an article on the Jerusalem Post today that addresses the question some of you have written and asked me regarding the prisoner exchange yesterday: How could Israel give so much in exchange for so little?
It's a valid question and we, Israelis, know that no other country would do it. But we also know why it was done.
I encourage you to read his article by clicking on this link:
Only Israelis Can Fathom
New Hizbollah Tactic
Hizballah continues its "celebration" of the prisoner exchange with Israel by launching new tactics. The terrorist group has now prepared anti-air missile ambushes against Israeli Air Force flights over Lebanon and anti-ship missiles against Israel naval craft cruising off its shores.
Hizballah has taken charge of the missile campaign while handing the Lebanese national army the task of attacking Israeli outposts at the Shaaba Farms enclave and the Mt. Dov slopes of the Hermon range.
It was very clear yesterday how all-encompassing Hizballah's rule over Lebanon actually is. The Lebanese president and Prime Minister were forced to honor the spectacular heroes' welcome organized by Hizbollah for the five imprisoned terrorists released by Israel.
President Michel Sleiman, former chief of staff, obediently repeated his demand of the day before for Israel to evacuate its troops from the two outposts. If diplomatic efforts failed to remove them, he said, then the Lebanese army must go into action.
Anti-air missiles and radar equipment have been installed on the Mt. Sannine peak in central Lebanon in the last few days, as reported a few days ago right here and later seen in the international media.
From that strategic height, Hizballah is preparing to shoot down encroaching Israel flights after taking instruction from Iranian intelligence and air defense officers in tactics on how to lay missile ambushes for aerial targets. DEBKA reports that with the help of Iranian and Syrian military experts, Hizballah has covered the length of the Lebanese coast with a dense line of 1,000 Iranian C-802 anti-ship missiles, which have a range of 120 km. Skimming 6-7 meters above the water's surface, these missiles have certain cruise features and are extremely hard to target.
The coastal missile deployment has been boosted by new radar stations and light reconnaissance planes and helicopters for tracking the naval craft cruising opposite the Lebanese coast. The thousands of Hizballah militiamen manning the system were trained in Iran and Syria.
Regev Funeral to Begin at 2 pm
At this hour, the funeral procession of Master Sergeant Eldad Regev has just left the IDF Shraga Base in northern Israel on its way southwards to Haifa, where the funeral will take place.
The procession will pass by the Regev family home in Kiryat Motzkin on its way southwards.
I will report on Regev's funeral tomorrow.
I want to say a personal thank you on behalf of all Israelis for the outpouring of prayers, grief, and condolences which came in yesterday after you received the Lekarev Report. There is no way I could answer each one as there were more than 400 but I promise you that I did read every word and was deeply touched by your compassion, your support, your tears with us and your prayers. Thank you so very much. I will pass on your messages.
Shalom and blessings,