Maj. Jamal Abbas, 23, a company commander in the 101st Battalion of the Paratroopers Brigade, was killed in combat in Sheikh Ijlin, in the southern Gaza Strip on November 18.
Abbas was born into a family of high-ranking military officers from the Druze village of Peki’in. His grandfather, retired Col. Gideon Abbas, is among the first Druze soldiers to attain the rank of brigade commander in the IDF.
Jamal’s father, Col. Anan Abbas, followed suit and rose to the rank of colonel while serving in the Northern Command.
“I grew up with the state and I was beaten even before the establishment of the state by the legion stationed here in the area. They suspected me of passing on information. I still felt the pain in my body from back in 1948,” Gideon Abbas said.
Abbas still, however, became an active member of the Druze Scouts Association in Israel and decided to join the army in 1960, at the age of 22. He raised his children with the army, taking them to military training and occasionally the Lebanese border during his service.
“I raised them this way, that they should be fighters and officers… I always believed in their abilities and believed that they should serve the country like everyone else,” he said.
During interviews about his son, Jamal Abbas’s father, Anan, noted the many Druze soldiers killed in the ongoing war and urged the Israeli government to change the Nation-State Law to define “Druze as an inseparable part of the State of Israel.”
Jamal Abbas died in the same battle as Staff. Sgt. Shachar Fridman — and the two soldiers’ fathers met in the wake of their deaths.
“Shachar and Jamal, in life and in death they were not separated. They were friends in heart and soul,” said Doron Fridman, Shachar’s father to Maariv. “Shachar adored Jamal, he followed him through fire and water.”
During Jamal’s last battle, his father and brother managed to contact him through a walkie-talkie and spoke to him during his final moments.
“Take care of yourselves, fight Hamas, destroy them. Fight boldly. Stay in there as long as needed until victory. I miss you very much and love you. You are supported by the Northern Command and our family. Take care, come back safely, and I’ll see you soon,” said Anan to his son over the phone.
“Thank you very much Dad, and congratulations on the new rank,” Jamal replied.
“Jamal was a playful person who loved to live and laugh. Everyone loved him,” recalled his father. “A leader, sociable, always smiling, always giving, always investing, always contributing.”
He was laid to rest at a funeral in Peki’in on November 19.