Israel bids farewell to ‘fearless fighter’ Binyamin Ben-Eliezer
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Israel bids farewell to ‘fearless fighter’ Binyamin Ben-Eliezer

Netanyahu and Peres have warm words for ex-general, defense minister, Labor leader; his US-based son opts not to fly in for event, for fear he might be arrested

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the funeral of former parliament member Binyamin 'Fuad' Ben-Eliezer, who died on Sunday at the age of 80, August 30, 2016. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the funeral of former parliament member Binyamin 'Fuad' Ben-Eliezer, who died on Sunday at the age of 80, August 30, 2016. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Hundreds of people turned out in Holon on Tuesday for the funeral of former MK, minister and IDF general Binyamin (Fuad) Ben-Eliezer, who died Sunday at the age of 80.

“I carry many memories of him, as we say goodbye with gratitude and a bowed head,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his eulogy. Referring to Ben-Eliezer by his nickname, the prime minister continued: “The first time I heard his name was when I was a young soldier in Sayeret Matkal [an elite army reconnaissance unit] and Fuad’s fame as a commander preceded him — he was well known.”

“I loved Fuad,” Netanyahu added, “and I permit myself to speak in all your names — we loved Fuad.”

Ben-Eliezer, he said, “understood the meaning of Jewish sovereignty, and contributed during his IDF service and later in his years of service in the government. He was an authentic person, and I was very impressed with that.”

Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, April 30, 2014, in Tel Aviv. (AP/Dan Balilty)
Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, April 30, 2014, in Tel Aviv. (AP/Dan Balilty)

Former president Shimon Peres also paid tribute to his one-time Labor colleague, calling him “a people person… a beloved commander… a fearless fighter against terrorism.”

“Fuad,” he said, “you’re planted deep in the fields of Israel. You built its roads, defended its borders and towns.”

Peres also highlighted Ben-Eliezer’s popularity, which he said transcended his Labor affiliation.

“We have come to take leave of you, from the right and the left, religious and secular; friends from all [ideological] streams and parties; representatives of the various religions. We’ve come to say thank you for your contribution to the security of the country, for the seeds of hope that you spread, for your humanity.”

Yariv Ben-Eliezer, the son of former MK Binyamin 'Fuad' Ben-Eliezer speaks at his father's funeral in Holon on August 30, 2016. (Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Yariv Ben-Eliezer, the son of former MK Binyamin ‘Fuad’ Ben-Eliezer speaks at his father’s funeral in Holon on August 30, 2016. (Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Yariv Ben-Eliezer, son of the late politician, echoed the sentiment in his own eulogy, recounting that “so many people have told me that ‘this isn’t just your father.'”

Missing from the ceremony was second son Ofir Ben-Eliezer, who lives in the US, and who chose not to attend because of fears he would be arrested as a suspect in the graft allegations that his father faced in his later years.

Iraqi-born Ben-Eliezer, a career general, politician and one-time leader of the Labor Party, was being treated at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv when he passed away from complications stemming from dialysis treatment.

Tributes from politicians, officials, friends and others have been flooding in since Ben-Eliezer’s death. Just one public figure — former Labor minister Yossi Beilin — broke with all the praise when he told Channel 1 news Sunday that he recalled Ben-Eliezer as “an aggressive, destructive politician.”

Ben-Eliezer is survived by his wife and five children.

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