Those We Have Lost

Lt. Col. Tomer Grinberg, 35: Commander who ‘gave his soul’ for Israel

Killed fighting in northern Gaza on December 12

Lt. Col. Tomer Grinberg who was killed in Gaza on December 12, 2023. (IDF)
Lt. Col. Tomer Grinberg who was killed in Gaza on December 12, 2023. (IDF)

Lt. Col. Tomer Grinberg, 35, of Almog, was killed fighting in northern Gaza on December 12, alongside eight other IDF soldiers, in an ambush during a battle in the heart of Shejaiya.

Grinberg, the commander of the Golani Brigade’s 13th Battalion, was buried on December 13 on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem. He is survived by his wife, Ashira, daughter Arbel, 4, parents Isaac and Adina, and his siblings.

On social media, a video of Grinberg addressing his troops after Oct. 7 made the rounds following his death. In the clip, he compares their mission to the 1973 Yom Kippur War, an existential fight for Israel which broke out exactly 50 years before the current conflict.

“In 10 years, there will be [another] hero commander of the 13th, with hero troops. Some of you will be parents, some of you will be who knows where. He’ll dispatch the force on Yom Kippur. And they will tell about you and see pictures of our dead,” he says in the video, comparing his soldiers to those who fought in the Yom Kippur War in 1973, whom they presumably had heard stories about. “You are no less heroic than them,” he continues. “You’re not spoiled. You don’t seem to be the iPhone generation.”

Lt. Col. Tomer Grinberg embraces his daughter, Arbel, in July 2023. (IDF Spokesperson)

At his funeral, his father, Isaac, said “we are all prepared to give our soul and to die for the State of Israel — that is Golani, that is Tomer.”

Grinberg had fought in Shejaiya in 2014, during Israel’s previous ground invasion of Gaza, when 13 soldiers from his battalion were killed in a battle there. On Oct. 7, he led the battle against Hamas terrorists in Kibbutz Nir Oz, one of the border communities that was hit hard in the invasion. Golani lost 40 soldiers that day.

Baruch Ben Yigal, whose son served under Grinberg and was killed in 2020, told Radio 103FM that hearing of Grinberg’s death made him feel like he “lost another son.”

“Since Amit died, Tomer made sure to come over and take part in any ceremony in Amit Ben Yigal’s memory. Thank you, dear Tomer. Grinberg family, you are now part of our family,” he told Ynet.

Ashira Grinberg, wife of Lt. Col. Tomer Grinberg, the Commander of the Golani Brigade’s 13th Battalion, is comforted by Defense Minister Yoav Galant during his funeral at the Mount Herzl Military Cemetery in Jerusalem on December 13, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Tomer’s brother, Ziv, who has also been fighting in Gaza and last saw his brother when the two traveled toward the Gaza border on Oct. 7, said: “We knew that it is a privilege to defend our country and it comforts me to know that you would have felt fulfilled with what you did.”

His wife, Ashira Grinberg, said she’d decided to read a letter she’d written for his recent birthday as part of her eulogy.

“Congratulations my love. [Our daughter] Arbel made you a drawing with a blessing and she is so happy with the idea. I have so much to tell you and share with you but this is not the time. When everything is over, we will have all the time in the world to celebrate life together and our decision to be together,” she read.

“Tomer, until now and still, a part of you belongs to us — I want to speak for a moment that you will be my Tomer,” she said between sobs. Reading the card, she said, “I believe that you arrived at this moment in order to be in this cursed war, may it end as quickly as possible. Your beard looks good on you and we will celebrate when you return.”

She added, “Nothing will separate between us, even if the world stops one day.”

Ashira said she believed her husband had come “into this world for this time period,” noting “your ability to keep your cool, to command others, and to be an inspirational and motivating character, to elicit trust from countless people, your subordinates and also other soldiers in the IDF.”

Read more Those We Have Lost stories here. 

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