Five soldiers buried, only one in military funeral
The Muslim public especially, and to a lesser degree the Bedouin public, opposes military service on the part of its sons because of the conflict with the Palestinians.
Five soldiers from the Bedouin desert reconnaissance unit killed in a tunnel attack on an outpost near Rafah on Monday were buried yesterday, four of them in civilian funerals at the request of their families. Only the family of Sgt. Sa'id Jahaja from Arara in Wadi Ara held a military funeral.
The other four soldiers buried were Sgt. Adham Shehada, 20, from the village of Turan in the Galilee; Sgt. Hussein Abu-Leil, 23, from the village of Ein Ma'ahal near Nazareth; Sgt. Aref al-Zabarga, 20; from the Negev village of Kseifa; and Sgt. Tareq al-Ziadna from Rahat. Two of them - Shehada and Abu-Leil - were Muslims.
The Muslim public especially, and to a lesser degree the Bedouin public, opposes military service on the part of its sons because of the conflict with the Palestinians. Often families who lose a son in uniform are not visited by neighbors during the mourning period.
Nevertheless, some 5,000 people attended Abu-Leil's funeral yesterday, a handful of them in uniform. The coffin was carried by family members and friends from the family home to the village cemetery where a prayer was held but no eulogies were delivered.
Hundreds of villagers from Turan also attended the funeral of Shehada, which was conducted in traditional Muslim style. Many officers and soldiers participated however, and friends said that Shehada had planned to join the permanent army because he enjoyed his service so much. He was the third victim from the village to die since the start of the current intifada.
Many hundreds of the Bedouin families in the Negev were present at the funerals of Ziadna and Zabarga, and large mourning tents were set up in both Rahat and Kseifa. Zabarga's uncle, Ibrahim, said that Aref had "wanted to contribute to the country but also wanted to begin studies. To my regret, he did not manage," he said.
Zabarga's cousin, who also served in the unit, was wounded in the blast and is hospitalized at Soroka Medical Center in Beer Sheva.
Family members expressed criticism of the army for stationing two family members in the same outpost, saying the soldiers had warned that there were suspicious noises near the outpost but that they went unheeded.
Five soldiers who were wounded in the blast are still in the hospital. Doctors said their condition had improved, with two moderately wounded.