Mourners pay last respects at nonstop funerals; ministers take heat for staying away

Family and friends attend the funeral of lone soldier Sgt. Benjamin Loeb in Jerusalem. (Noam Revkin Fenton /Flash90)
Family and friends attend the funeral of lone soldier Sgt. Benjamin Loeb in Jerusalem. (Noam Revkin Fenton /Flash90)

Funerals for soldiers and civilians are continuing to take place, day and night, their shocked and grieving families and friends delivering tear-laden eulogies or relating stories of their bravery.

“You physically prevented kidnappings, murders, and who knows what else,” the head of the civil security force at Kerem Shalom says at Mount Herzl, eulogizing his friend Israel Amihai Wiezen, who was killed trying to defend the small Gaza border community. “My dear brother, your name obliges us to revive the nation. Am Yisrael Chai.” Amihai means “my nation lives.”

In the Golan city of Katzrin, residents and others lined roads this morning with flags to salute the family of commando soldier Amihai Vanunu, who was killed in action.

Katzrin residents and others line roads to honor the family of Amihai Vanunu who was killed in action in the south, on October 11, 2023. (Michael Giladi/Flash90)

While the funerals are drawing hundreds in many cases — and even more when calls go out for people to pay last respects to those from abroad who might not have families in Israel to mourn them — some have criticized the government over the fact that representatives have not been present at military burials, normally a requirement.

According to Kan, the government’s response was that the requirement is suspended during times of war, though the answer has failed to stop the criticism.

At a funeral for Yaron Shai, son of former economy minister Izhar Shai, Yaron’s brother Ofir slings harsh criticism at the “government of shame,” in a video shared by Channel 13 reporter Raviv Drucker.

“My little brother was killed by murderous terrorists filled with hate, and the one who opened the door for them, with its debased actions, was the government of Israel,” he says, as Economy Minister Nir Barkat looks on stony-faced.

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