Thousands of people attended the funeral of 22-year-old Or Assraf, the Israeli trekker killed last week in the Nepal earthquake, on Wednesday afternoon.
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Assraf’s body was found this past Sunday in the Langtang nature reserve north of Kathmandu, near the village of Bamboo. He was the last Israeli unaccounted for in Nepal and the search for him lasted eight days.
Among the large crowd at the cemetery in Lehavim on Wednesday were Assraf’s comrades from the IDF's elite Egoz unit and alumni of his Scouts youth group chapter who took part in the search for him in Nepal over the last week.
“Everyone is here at the end of the journey. You’re home now,” his father Patrick said in his eulogy. “How do you say goodbye to someone so dearly loved? You set out for a 10-day trek well-equipped, with a detailed map, you saw snow-capped mountain peaks, you heard birds singing The earth waited patiently for 80 years for a person like you. On the trail you were on we counted 20 landslides. Just a hundred meters further and you could have emerged unscathed.”
Patrick said that despite the terrible tragedy, the family is finding comfort in knowing that at least Or did not suffer before his death. “Death was quick, you didn’t suffer for a moment. Death took you when you were full of life,” he said.
He described the search efforts that were undertaken together with four friends from Or’s Egoz unit. “His friends never gave up. They fought on with real determination. Or, you were the salt of the earth, a beloved son and dear brother. Your goodness was apparent from the moment you were born. It was our privilege to be your parents. You will be with us always.”
In his eulogy, Assraf’s commander, Or Hamani, mentioned two of their comrades who were killed during Operation Protective Edge last summer. “You were a source of great joy. When you left it wasn’t as much fun,” Hamani said. “You were a great fighter, you fulfilled your dream of climbing on the Anapurna, you were happy. And now I guess you’re in heaven, hugging Yuvi and Yifrah and being received with tremendous love. Even now you are not alone, we never leave each other. That’s how it is in the unit, we’re together to the end, for better and for worse, in life and in death.”