Staff Sgt. Uri Grossman, 20, the son of renowned novelist and peace activist David Grossman was killed Saturday in Lebanon, just days after his father made a public call for the government to halt its military operation and enter negotiations.
Uri Grossman, who served in an armored unit, was killed when his tank was hit by an anti-tank missile in southern Lebanon, the military said Sunday.
The unit was taking part in Israel's final push deep into Lebanon aimed at maximizing Israeli gains against Hezbollah before a UN-ordered cease-fire came into force early Monday.
Tearful friends and relatives began gathering Sunday morning at the Grossman home in the Jerusalem suburb of Mevasseret Zion, and the news of his death spread swiftly around the neighborhood. But the army withheld publication of his name until relatives outside Israel were informed.
David Grossman, whose novels and political essays have been translated into 20 languages, is an outspoken advocate of conciliation with the Arabs and of ending Israel's occupation of the West Bank. But, like most Israelis, he supported Israel's retaliation when Hezbollah fighters attacked an army patrol inside Israel on July 12 and unleashed a barrage of rockets on civilians in the north.
By Thursday he said the war had gone on long enough. The turning point came the previous day when the government approved a plan to launch an 11th-hour campaign meant to inflict a devastating blow to Hezbollah.
In a joint news conference with fellow novelists Amos Oz and A.B. Yehoshua, Grossman denounced the plan as dangerous and counterproductive. "Out of concern for the future of Israel and our place here, the fighting should be stopped now, to give a chance to negotiations," he said.
Grossman urged Israel to accept a proposal by Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora - which later formed the core of the UN resolution for ending the conflict - calling for the deployment of Lebanese troops in southern Lebanon with the help of an international force that would end Hezbollah's control over the area.
"This solution is the victory that Israel wanted," Grossman said. He warned that stepping up the offensive could trigger the collapse of Siniora's government and the strengthening of Hezbollah - the very force Israel set out to destroy. "It's still possible to prevent it," Grossman said. "This is the last moment."
Grossman, an Israeli-born son of a refugee from Nazi Europe, has written critically acclaimed novels about the Holocaust and about political and social injustice. In 1987, he wrote "The Yellow Wind," a sympathetic look at Palestinians living under Israeli occupation, a rare attitude at the time that made him a spokesman for Israel's peace camp.
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