The choice to come dressed in Israel Defense Forces uniforms, despite yesterday's heat, did not seem strange to Ze'ev Natan. As their sweat stains spread, the reservists who served with Eldad Regev said "the reserve duty that began two years ago actually ended only today, and therefore we decided to come here dressed in our army uniforms."
Some also pinned a Second Lebanon War campaign ribbon on to their shirts.
Natan was the last person to hear any communication from Regev and Ehud Goldwasser. He received their distress call informing the base that they had come under attack.
"I heard them say, 'we have been engaged, we have been engaged,' and then the shots were heard and I raised the alarm," he recalls.
Less than an hour earlier, the convoy with Regev's coffin arrived at his family's home in Kiryat Motzkin, a modest apartment building in a neighborhood from another time, where everyone knows everyone and neighbors are close.
The funeral procession continued to the Haifa military cemetery where thousands congregated. Tzipora Avitan and Orna Shimoni arrived together. Avitan, mother of Adi who was killed in a Hezbollah attack on Har Dov, and Shimoni, whose son Eyal was killed in Lebanon and who led the effort to withdraw from southern Lebanon, both felt they needed to be there.
Vizhnitz Hassidim, from the Ramat Vizhnitz neighborhood in Haifa also came. "This is mourning for all of the people of Israel and we came to offer our respects," explained one.
The ceremony was attended also by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, the chief rabbis, and senior officers in the Israel Defense Forces, including Brigadier General (res.) Gal Hirsch, who commanded the division which defended the area where the Hezbollah attack had taken place.
Barak said Regev "was an excellent son of Kiryat Motzkin, a youth in the Kiryat Shmuel high school yeshiva, a soldier in Givati, an impressive young man, a son of the Torah, a believer ... the life story of one of our finests sons that was cut short."
Eldad's brother, Eyal, spoke at the grave: "On the Memorial Day for the fallen IDF soldiers, two months and 12 days prior to the attack, Eldad wrote in his notes, 'perhaps there is consolation at the edge. There is hope that there will be good; there is memory and there is belief that your deaths were not for naught. Heroes in their deaths bequeath us a life of peace. May their memory be blessed.' My Eldad, may your memory be blessed."
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now