Hundreds of people arrived at Mount Herzl military cemetery this afternoon to mourn the death of Cpl. Netanel Young, a 20-year-old lone soldier in the Golani Brigade’s 13th Battalion, who was killed in action during the ongoing Israel-Gaza war.
In the middle of the funeral, blaring rocket sirens interrupted Young’s sister Gabi, who was eulogizing her brother. Attendees hurriedly leaped to the ground and covered their heads, while the Iron Dome could be heard intercepting rockets from on high.
Soon after the sirens ceased, the funeral continued in an orderly fashion, though many attendees were clearly rattled.
Young’s family put out a call ahead of the funeral inviting members of the public to attend, and the public followed through, with hundreds turning out to pay their respects to the slain soldier, most of whom did not know him personally. Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion was also in attendance, though he did not give a speech.
“Nat said, from the age of 10 or 11, that he wanted to serve in the IDF and protect Israel. He had such a deep connection to the country,” said Young’s older brother Elliot while choking up. “I got the sense that even from that age, Netanel was pained just having to watch the news, without being able to help.”
The late soldier was laid to rest adjacent to Col. Roi Yosef Levy, who was also killed in the south during fighting near the Re’im military base. Levy’s funeral was held a few hours before Young’s.
Col. Yoav Mordechai, former commander of the Jerusalem Brigade, addressed the mourning Young family directly at the start of the funeral.
“Be proud of Netanel, he was a hero. We, the Golani Brigade, are your family, now and forever. You will forever be a part of the Golani Brigade, Netanel, we miss you very much.”
Young’s sister Gabi also paid tribute to him: “He arrived and managed to continue to follow his passions by dogsitting, working out on the beach, getting a job as a DJ at one of Tel Aviv’s most famous clubs, and joining the IDF. He found true happiness in Israel and it was infectious. His selfless kindness was so rare, and I aspire to be as kind as him.”
Young’s parents, Shantel and Nicky, were the last to eulogize their son.
“My heart hurts so much that even tears can’t explain my pain — any mother I think will understand,” said his mother, Shantel. “Part of me died, that’s for sure. I’m not going to be the same person, but for my other children, I’m going to try to remain strong.”
After being led in the Mourner’s Kaddish by the rabbi conducting the funeral, attendees paid their respects, laying stones on the slain soldier’s freshly-dug grave.