Israeli Commander Killed in Botched Gaza Op Laid to Rest: 'One of Israel's Greatest Heroes'

The army has forbidden details about Lt. Col. M.'s personal life to be publicized at this time, other than he died at age 41 and was a father of two

Cemetery where Lt. Col. M. was buried, today.
Gil Eliyahu

>> UPDATE: Massive barrage of some 200 Gaza rockets launched at Israel; IDF strikes Strip

Lt. Col. M., the Israeli commander who was killed in a military operation in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, was laid to rest on Monday afternoon in northern Israel.

The army has forbidden details about M.'s personal life to be publicized at this time, other than he died at age 41 and was a father of two.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett eulogized M., saying that his actions would stand alongside those of Lt. Col. Yoni Netanyahu, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's late brother, and Maj. Roi Klein, who was killed in the Second Lebanon War.

Gaza incident was a botched Israeli military op, not an assassination attempt.

"M. lived a hero's life and had courage. Now, we will not be able to expand on his actions, and we will not be able to glorify him as we would like, but these results stand proudly in the face of many Israeli citizens," Bennett said.

The IDF near Gaza border, today.
Eliyahu Hershkowitz

>> Analysis: Botched Israeli special forces op in Gaza was not an assassination attempt

"M. will be listed in the Books of Chronicles as one of Israel's greatest heroes, alongside Yoni Netanyahu and Roi Klein, and other great men and our nation's heroes. He was a daring commander who did not hesitate to put his life in danger, in a very complex operation," Bennett added.

Tamir Heyman, chief of the IDF Intelligence Corps, said that though he was proscribed from detailing the nature of M.'s service, and that he had personally not known him well, M. had been a courageous fighter.

"From what I knew of him and from his friends and commanders, I learned about a courageous officer who, from his recruitment to the paratroopers and throughout his years of service, was outstanding in his values and capabilities," Heyman said.

Israeli forces near the Gaza border.
Eliyahu Hershkowitz

"With broken heart and tearing eyes we accompany this officer, hero and patriot, the most admirable person we knew, on this dark, dark day," said Communications Minister Ayoob Kara in a eulogy for M.

M. had many relatives in combat service, Kara said.

Kara added that Israel would continue to act against terrorism, and said he called on the "free world and sane Arab nations" to note the threat isn't just against Israel, but against them as well.

They should join hands to fight this "cruel terrorism," Kara said. "There is no other way and there are no magic bullets."

The IDF Spokesperson's Unit announced that Lt. Col. M. was from northern Israel and had been killed during a botched special forces operation in Gaza after they encountered a "very complex situation."

"The fighters in the force had acted heroically and fought heroically to remove the threat. M.'s own actions cannot be elaborated in public, the spokesman said, but he is worthy of every respect for this action and others that he carried out for Israel to maintain its superiority over its enemies," the spokesperson said.

Another Israeli officer was moderately wounded during the operation. The officer's mother said that his condition has stabilized, but recovery will take a long time. The officer was admitted to the intensive care unit at Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva after undergoing an operation.  

His mother added that his children came to visit him and that just last year he had been wounded in the legs. "It isn't easy for them," she said.

At least seven Palestinians were killed Sunday after heavy fire was exchanged with Israeli forces, including a commander in Hamas' military wing, according to Palestinian sources. At least 17 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel overnight Sunday.