Sunday, November 17, 2002

Ragen: Who is responsible for Hebron's fallen?

From Naomi Ragen:


In the aftermath of the battle that took 12 Jewish lives in Hebron, and hospitalized 16, we in Israel mourn our dead, and ask some pointed questions about our political leadership. The battle began when Jewish worshippers and the soldiers protecting them returned from Friday evening prayers at the Tomb of the Patriarchs and were attacked by Islamic Jihad terrorists hiding behind olive trees and possibly inside the homes of Hebron's Arab inhabitants that line the narrow road between the Tomb and the Jewish township of Kiryat Arba. Jewish troops were pointedly removed from Hebron only two weeks ago by then-Minister of Defense Ben-Eliezer, despite strenuous objections by the top commander in Hebron Col. Dror Weinberg. Today, Israel's Chief of Staff said the three Jihad terrorists who perpetrated the outrage (who had fled Hebron) returned when Mr. Ben-Eliezer instituted his "plan" to remove troops in order to start a "dialogue" with the inhabitants of Hebron.

Col. Weinberg, who leaves behind five small children and a pregnant wife, was considered one of Israel's finest, and was in line for a promotion to head the prestigious paratroopers this summer, the first skull-cap-wearing soldier to hold this top position.

There is great anger among Israelis for what is seen as Eliezer's irresponsible, vote-grabbing decision (Mr. Ben-Eliezer was hoping to become candidate for the Prime Minister of Israel and wanted to curry favor with Labor Party leftists. This is my opinion.) An article to this effect appeared today in Hatzofeh by Haggai Huberman, who wrote: "Twelve soldiers and fighters headed by the commander of the Hebron Brigade, Col. Dror Weinberg, paid on Sabbath Eve the price of Fuad Ben-Eliezer's primaries. These dead are the result of the decision of the previous minister of defense to remove the IDF from most of the area of Hebron some two weeks ago out of political considerations and a desire to present the image of a diplomat carrying out diplomatic processes."

Mr. Ben-Eliezer, interviewed on radio, charged Huberman with being guilty of blood libel and repeating the same incitement that led to the murder of Prime Minister Rabin. (This charge seems to be the last bastion of Leftists scoundrels everywhere.) Ben-Eliezer said that he plans to file charges with the police for the arrest of the correspondent.
One wonders at the arrogance of these petty politicians. Instead of contacting his lawyer, I suggest "Fuad" contact the families of the people below and beg their forgiveness for helping to get their loved ones murdered. He can then contact the families of the 21 soldiers in Jenin that were not allowed to use air cover because "Fuad" didn't want to look bad on CNN) and then he can ask the forgiveness of every single Israeli he was supposed to be protecting as Defense Minister, for being an arrogant, small-minded, selfish, stupid little politician, instead of a Jewish statesmen responsible for Jewish lives. I'm sorry if that sounds harsh. A day of Jewish funerals--that were completely unnecessary--does that to me.

The following list was compiled by Harvey Tannenbaum, who says he based it on an article in Maariv.

Fallen in the Battle of Hebron, November 16, 2002

Alex Duchan, 33
, left Paris 16 years ago. This teenager had had enough of Paris and its French antisemites. He made aliyah on his own and attended high school and yeshiva in Jerusalem. Alex moved to Kiryat Arba a few years ago and became a volunteer citizen in the ''emergency readiness team.'' Alex was always with his weapons, even when he was ''off duty.'' Alex was with the 'emergency' response team who tried to rescue the soldiers pinned down by the terrorists on Friday night's cross fire. His sons Yehuda, 8, Eliyahu, 6, Yochai, 5, and Tehila, a daughter, 3, will today say kaddish as they bury their father, as they grasp the hands of their mother.

Alex Svitman, 26, had just finished making kiddush for his wife, Leyda, and their sets of parents were just going to wash for Friday night Hamotzi in Kiryat Arba as his beeper went off to go to the terror attack in Hebron. Leyda, his wife, had just celebrated her birthday on Thursday. Alex raised his cup after hamotzi and wished a "Mazal Tov, and Lechayim, and said to his wife, 'I love you.' Alex made aliyah from the Ukraine 12years ago and moved to Kiryat Arba. Alex was the second member of the 'emergency' team to fall in the crossfire on Friday night.

Igor Draviski never told his mother where he was serving in the IDF. "I'm in Tel Aviv watching the restaurants as part of my duty." These words of explanation were how Igor explained his whereabouts in the IDF to his mother. Igor and his parents left Azerbijan 6years ago for the promised land. Igor was an army medic who ran to try and help his commander, Colonel Dror Weinberg, from the crossfire. Igor was engaged to be married next month. Igor died and left his parents, a brother, and sisterinlaw and two nephews.

Dan Cohen, 22, was named after an uncle who was killed in the Yom Kippur War. Dan was a graduate of Neve Shmuel Yeshiva High School here in Efrat. Dan added another year of hesder at Ein Tzurim near Efrat. Dan was an officer at 22 and rising in the IDF. Dan was hit by the PLO terrorists as one of the first IDF soldiers on Friday night. Dan had just been transferred with his unit to Hebron last week. Dan is survived by his parents and two sisters, who now live in Maale Adumim.

David Marcus, 22, was always in competition with his brothers as to who would serve in a 'more combat' unit than the other sibling. At 3PM on Friday, David called his father to say Shabbat Shalom and that he was going on duty for the night. David made aliyah from Russia 6 years ago with his father and older brother. Although his parents were divorced, David was close to his mother, still in Russia. David's older brother was serving in another special unit not far away. Today David will be buried in full military honors later today as a brother and father say kaddish, while the mother from Russia sees what aliyah did for her son.

Dror Weinberg, 38, father of 5, a religious top ranking Colonel, set to be head of the Parachutists Brigade next summer, jumped out of his office and told his soldiers "Watch yourselves," as he ran out to the battle on Friday night. Dror learned in Yeshiva Merkaz Harav Kook after growing up in Kfar Saba. Dror was one of the highest ranking officers proudly donning his knitted kippa. Dror received his first medal of honor from Yitzchak Rabin then Prime Minister and Defense Minister. Dror continued to rise in the ranks of the IDF as he was sworn in as an officer in Hebron in 1996 on the hills of Abu Sneineh, where 6years later on this infamous Friday night, Dror would die in battle.

Last month, Dror and Hadassah Weinberg moved from their two room apartment where they had raised 5children in Kiryat Moshe to a 5room apartment in Kiryat Moshe. Dror was so proud as he toured each room to 'present' it to each child, who no longer would all be sleeping in the same room, as the kids had done for so long. Hadassah is pregnant with her 6th child. Dror is survived by Uri, 3, whose hair cutting ceremony was scheduled for Chanukah, Yishai, 5, Eitan, 8, Yael, 11, and Yoav, 14. Dror would commute as often as possible to see his kids in Jerusalem while his responsibility as "Machat" top officer in Hebron would allow. Hadassah Weinberg spent this Shabbat with her sister in Beer Sheva, as she knew that her officer-husband had to be in Hebron for Shabbat.

Today four of the five children will recite kaddish together and perhaps the unborn fetus will answer amen as Hadassah holds the 3-year-old whose blonde and long hair has covered every newspaper's front page today.

Tomer Nov, 19, was the baby of his family born to his parents, then in their mid 40's. As Tomer joined the army 8months ago, he was always the first off his jeep in battle. Tomer never wanted a 'day off' from his IDF and always volunteered to take the days off for other soldiers. Tomer was killed at the battle and is survived by his parents, brother, 31, and sister, 28.

Netanel Macholouf, 19, was a "Tzaddik" (“righteous person”) according to his sister, who was interviewed today before the funeral. A Jew who dies on Shabbat is a Tzaddik was her explanation to the radio interviewer. Netanel was an officer whose dream was to lead a unit in combat. Netanel was killed trying to rescue the other soldiers during the crossfire. Netanel is survived by his parents, siblings, Baruch, 34, Shuva, 16, and Galit 18.

Yeshaiyu Dvidov, 21, was a Magav soldier for the National Police. He too immigrated from Azerbeijan 12 years ago. He had just been accepted to law school for 2003. Yeshaiyu was a medic and an officer. He was killed as he too ran into the crossfire to pull out the wounded. He is survived by his parents, a brother, 11, and a sister, 29.
Gadi Rachamim, 19, had just gotten a citation of merit for capturing #2 in Hebron from the Hamas. Gadi had pulled out two injured soldiers from the terror attack on Friday night. Gadi went back in to try and rescue a third wounded soldier when he was felled by the bullets of the terrorists' guns. Gadi was supposed to be off duty and at home on Shabbat. However, his commanding officer cancelled all leaves on Friday morning due to warnings in the area. Gadi is survived by his parents, a 5-year-old brother, a 12-year-old brother and 17-year-old sister.

Smaiach Swidan, the Druze officer, had been wounded years ago in Lebanon. Smaiach returned to his reserve duty and was the first officer fighting the terrorists before his commander, Colonel Weinberg arrived on the scene. He had served in Ramallah, Schechem, and now was with his paratroop unit in Hebron. He is survived by his wife, 2 children, and parents, and six brothers, all of whom are serving in the IDF.

Yitzchak Boenesh, 48, was the head of the emergency response team in Kiryat Arba. Many Shabbatot, Col. Dror Weinberg, would catch a kiddush and a meal with the Boenesh family. The seven children, wife, and atmosphere was the closest to the Weinberg home when the commanding officer could be in Jerusalem.

Yitzchak and Rivka, as their namesakes thousands of years before, arrived in Kiryat Arba 20 years ago. Yitzchak had served in the special "Alpine'' unit of the IDF, climbing every mountain in all weather conditions. Yitzchak was killed as he and his emergency unit headed out to battle on Friday night to assist the IDF. His friend, Colonel Weinberg, died a few feet from Yitzchak. On this Friday night, the two friends could not make kiddush together but their 12 combined children will say kaddish today for their abbas. Yitzchak is survived by his wife and 7 children and a new son-in-law.