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The father of a Be'er Sheva man killed in a motorcycle accident Friday said yesterday that he would keep his son's body in the family's living room until the army agrees to provide a military funeral for him.

The Israel Defense Forces says it has classified Yair Sasson as a deserter and therefore will not provide a military ceremony.

Sasson's father, Yaakov Sasson, said Be'er Sheva rabbis asked him several times to accord his son a proper, even if temporary, burial. He said no IDF official contacted the family yesterday.

"A temporary burial will only happen at my house in the living room," said Yaakov Sasson. "It seems nothing interests the army. No army official has told us anything today. My son's body is at the cemetery now and from the minute they release it, I will bring it to the living room and bury it in the house."

The local military officer in Be'er Sheva informed the family on Saturday night that the IDF considered Yair Sasson a deserter, not a soldier on active duty. An IDF spokesman later said an examination of the case indicated that Sasson had deserted and was not serving in a military capacity at the time of his death.

The Sasson family concedes that Yair Sasson had been absent from the army since May 27, but says he was in regular contact with his commander and was due to return to his base yesterday. That, say family lawyers Shlomo Zipori and Shlomo Rehavi, means that Sasson was a soldier at the time of his death and therefore eligible for a military funeral.

The army generally takes responsibility for the burial of all soldiers killed while they are serving in the military, regardless of whether the death took place in the line of fire.

Family requests immediate response

The family's lawyers have requested an immediate response from the IDF and plan to file a petition with the High Court of Justice asking it to compel the army to bury Sasson if the IDF continues to refuse to do so on its own.

The army has handled the matter in a "disgusting" manner, said Yaakov Sasson, adding that he did not understand how the case had reached this point.

Yair Sasson died while riding as a passenger on his friend's motorcycle in Be'er Sheva on Friday. The motorcycle overturned and Sasson was critically hurt. He was taken to Soroka Medical Center, where he died from his injuries.