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‘Nothing will separate between us’: After Israel’s bloodiest day since Oct. 7, thousands pay their respects to a fallen commander

JERUSALEM (JTA) — As rain pounded the gravestones, thousands of people crowded into Israel’s military cemetery on Mt. Herzl to pay their final respects to Lt. Col. Tomer Grinberg.

It was one of many military funerals that day. Grinberg, 35, was the commander of the Golani infantry brigade’s elite 13th battalion, which lost nine soldiers in a fierce battle Tuesday night in the Gaza City-area neighborhood of Shejaiya. Taken together with a tenth soldier killed elsewhere in Israel’s war against Hamas, it was Israel’s deadliest day of fighting since Hamas’ Oct. 7 invasion, which launched the war. 

“We are all prepared to give our soul and to die for the State of Israel,” said his father Isaac, whose voice cracked as he recited the Kaddish prayer for his son. “That is Golani, that is Tomer.” 

The magnitude of the loss was evident in the funeral’s location, a new section of Mt. Herzl that was opened to accommodate the graves of soldiers killed on Oct. 7 and afterward. Since Israel’s ground invasion of Gaza, 115 Israel Defense Forces soldiers have been killed. Taken together with the casualties on Oct. 7, the military has lost more than 400 troops. 

Hundreds of thousands of reservists were called up after Oct. 7, and since the ground invasion began, Israeli families have listened to casualty announcements with anxiety, reading names, looking at pictures and hoping that their loved ones were not among the dead. 

“It is very difficult to open the news each day because every time there is news of more soldiers who fell,” said Lior Benisty, an IDF official responsible for supporting bereaved families through the grieving process who was at Mt. Herzl. 

In his 15 years of duty, he says nothing has come close to the difficulty of the current period. “It is difficult news for all of us, with each of us sharing in the sorrow of this national mourning,” he said.

Tuesday’s news has hit the country particularly hard, both due to the number of soldiers killed and the circumstances of the battle. 

The battle occurred in what the IDF called its “twilight” stage of conquering Shejaiya. In Tuesday’s operation, it sought to eliminate remaining Hamas strongholds in order to establish complete control of the northern Gaza Strip, where the ground invasion began. But amid fighting in the densely-crowded “Casbah” area of the neighborhood, Golani troops were ambushed by an explosion that cut off communication and killed four soldiers. Another five soldiers fell in an ensuing rescue mission. 

The ambushes also killed Col. Itzhak Ben Basat, 44, head of the Golani Brigade’s commander’s team and the highest-ranking soldier killed to date in the ground invasion.

In a post on social media, former Defense Minister Benny Gatz, a member of Israel’s war cabinet, wrote that the war is “exacting a heavy, painful and difficult price from us.”

“Every fallen soldier is a scar on all of the state of Israel, and every scar is a reminder of our soldiers’ heroism, and of our need to be worthy as a society of their sacrifice,” he wrote. 

Grinberg had fought in Shejaiya in 2014, during Israel’s last ground invasion of Gaza, when 13 soldiers from his battalion were killed in a battle there. On Oct. 7, he led the battle against Hamas terrorists in Kibbutz Nir Oz, one of the border communities that was hit hard in the invasion. Golani lost 40 soldiers that day.

“We knew that it is a privilege to defend our country and it comforts me to know that you would have been complete with yourself with what you did,” said his brother Ziv, who has also been fighting in Gaza and last saw his brother when the two traveled toward the Gaza border on Oct. 7. 

In recent weeks, the IDF has shifted the brunt of its force to the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis, where it believes Hamas’ leadership is based. Overall, more than 18,000 Palestinians have been killed in the war, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry, a figure that does not distinguish between civilians and combatants. On Oct. 7, Hamas terrorists killed some 1,200 people, largely civilians. 

Mourners on Mt. Herzl on Dec. 13, 2023. (Eliyahu Freedman)

Grinberg’s was one of several funerals around the Har Herzl grounds. Rows of graves newly dug in the last month were adorned with fresh flowers, flags of military units, scarves bearing the logos of favorite soccer teams and pictures of the fallen soldiers. At one grave, a family gathered with large balloons to celebrate the 23rd birthday of their fallen son, a newlywed. 

Many of the attendees at Grinberg’s funeral wore military and Golani insignia and included several of the IDF’s top brass, including Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. A significant number of the troops whom Grinberg commanded, and who were injured during the fighting and discharged attended the ceremony.

But there were also moments during the funeral that harkened to the world beyond the war. In her eulogy, Ashira Grinberg, Tomer’s wife, read from a birthday card she and their daughter sent him while he was at the front. 

“Tomer, until now and still, a part of you belongs to us — I want to speak for a moment that you will be my Tomer,” she said between sobs. Reading the card, she said, “I believe that you arrived at this moment in order to be in this cursed war, may it end as quickly as possible. Your beard looks good on you and we will celebrate when you return.”

She added, “Nothing will separate between us, even if the world stops one day.”

On social media, a video of Grinberg addressing his troops after Oct. 7 has made the rounds. In the clip, he compares their mission to the 1973 Yom Kippur War, an existential fight for Israel which broke out exactly 50 years before the current conflict. 

“So it turns out you are not spoiled,” he said. “It turns out you are no less heroic than them. It turns out you are not the ‘iPhone generation.’ So well done, everyone. I’m proud of everyone here, but this is just the beginning.”


The post ‘Nothing will separate between us’: After Israel’s bloodiest day since Oct. 7, thousands pay their respects to a fallen commander appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Israeli Official: ‘Important Operation’ in Yemen Sends Strong Message to Shiite Axis

Drones are seen at a site at an undisclosed location in Iran, in this handout image obtained on April 20, 2023. Photo: Iranian Army/WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Handout via REUTERS

i24 NewsA senior Israeli security official spoke to i24NEWS on Saturday on condition of the retaliatory strike carried out by the Israel Air Force against the Houthi jihadists in Yemen.

“This is an important operation which signals that there’s room for further escalation, and sends a very strong message to the entire Shiite axis.”

“We understood there is a high probability of counter attacks, but if we do not respond, the meaning is even worse. Israel has updated the US prior to the operation.”

The strike on Hodeida came after long-range Iranian-made drone hit a building in central Tel Aviv, killing one man and wounded several others.

The post Israeli Official: ‘Important Operation’ in Yemen Sends Strong Message to Shiite Axis first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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IDF Confirms Striking ‘Terrorist Houthi Regime’ in Yemen’s Hodeida

Houthi leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi addresses followers via a video link at the al-Shaab Mosque, formerly al-Saleh Mosque, in Sanaa, Yemen, Feb. 6, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

i24 NewsThe Israeli military on Saturday confirmed striking a port in Yemen controlled by the Houthi jihadists, a day after the Iranian proxy group perpetrated a deadly drone attack on Tel Aviv.

“A short while ago, IDF fighter jets struck military targets of the Houthi terrorist regime in the area of the Al Hudaydah Port in Yemen in response to the hundreds of attacks carried out against the State of Israel in recent months.”

After Houthi drone attack on Tel Aviv, reports and footage out of Yemen of air strikes hitting Hodeida

— Video used in accordance with clause 27A of Israeli copyright law pic.twitter.com/d2uE16ZzQ1

— i24NEWS English (@i24NEWS_EN) July 20, 2024

Yoav Gallant, the defense minister, issued a statement saying “The fire that is currently burning in Hodeidah, is seen across the Middle East and the significance is clear. The Houthis attacked us over 200 times. The first time that they harmed an Israeli citizen, we struck them. And we will do this in any place where it may be required.”

“The blood of Israeli citizens has a price,” Gallant added. “This has been made clear in Lebanon, in Gaza, in Yemen, and in other places – if they will dare to attack us, the result will be identical.”

Gallant: ‘The fire currently burning in Hodeida is seen across the region and the significance is clear… The blood of Israeli citizens has a price, as has been made clear in Lebanon, in Gaza, in Yemen and in other places – if they dare attack us, the result will be identical.’ pic.twitter.com/DmHjwfHtPV

— i24NEWS English (@i24NEWS_EN) July 20, 2024

The post IDF Confirms Striking ‘Terrorist Houthi Regime’ in Yemen’s Hodeida first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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One Part of Cyprus Mourns, the Other Rejoices 50 Years After Split

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan leaves after attending a military parade to mark the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus in response to a short-lived Greek-inspired coup, in the Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus, in the divided city of Nicosia, Cyprus July 20, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou

Greek Cypriots mourned and Turkish Cypriots rejoiced on Saturday, the 50th anniversary of Turkey’s invasion of part of the island after a brief Greek inspired coup, with the chances of reconciliation as elusive as ever.

The ethnically split island is a persistent source of tension between Greece and Turkey, which are both partners in NATO but are at odds over numerous issues.

Their differences were laid bare on Saturday, with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan attending a celebratory military parade in north Nicosia to mark the day in 1974 when Turkish forces launched an offensive that they call a “peace operation.”

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis was due later on Saturday to attend an event in the south of the Nicosia to commemorate what Greeks commonly refer to as the “barbaric Turkish invasion.” Air raid sirens sounded across the area at dawn.

Mitsotakis posted an image of a blood-stained map of Cyprus on his LinkedIn page with the words “Half a century since the national tragedy of Cyprus.”

There was jubilation in the north.

“The Cyprus Peace Operation saved Turkish Cypriots from cruelty and brought them to freedom,” Erdogan told crowds who gathered to watch the parade despite stifling midday heat, criticizing the south for having a “spoiled mentality” and seeing itself as the sole ruler of Cyprus.

Peace talks are stalled at two seemingly irreconcilable concepts – Greek Cypriots want reunification as a federation. Turkish Cypriots want a two-state settlement.

Erdogan left open a window to dialogue although he said a federal solution, advocated by Greek Cypriots and backed by most in the international community, was “not possible.”

“We are ready for negotiations, to meet, and to establish long-term peace and resolution in Cyprus,” he said.

Cyprus gained independence from Britain in 1960, but a shared administration between Greek and Turkish Cypriots quickly fell apart in violence that saw Turkish Cypriots withdraw into enclaves and led to the dispatch of a U.N. peacekeeping force.

The crisis left Greek Cypriots running the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus, a member of the European Union since 2004 with the potential to derail Turkey’s own decades-long aspirations of joining the bloc.

It also complicates any attempts to unlock energy potential in the eastern Mediterranean because of overlapping claims. The region has seen major discoveries of hydrocarbons in recent years.

REMEMBERING THE DEAD

Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides, whose office represents the Greek Cypriot community in the reunification dialogue, said the anniversary was a somber occasion for reflection and for remembering the dead.

“Our mission is liberation, reunification and solving the Cyprus problem,” he said. “If we really want to send a message on this tragic anniversary … it is to do anything possible to reunite Cyprus.”

Turkey, he said, continued to be responsible for violating human rights and international law over Cyprus.

Across the south, church services were held to remember the more than 3,000 people who died in the Turkish invasion.

“It was a betrayal of Cyprus and so many kids were lost. It wasn’t just my son, it was many,” said Loukas Alexandrou, 90, as he tended the grave of his son at a military cemetery.

In Turkey, state television focused on violence against Turkish Cypriots prior to the invasion, particularly on bloodshed in 1963-64 and in 1967.

Turkey’s invasion took more than a third of the island and expelled more than 160,000 Greek Cypriots to the south.

Reunification talks collapsed in 2017 and have been at a stalemate since. Northern Cyprus is a breakaway state recognized only by Turkey, and its Turkish Cypriot leadership wants international recognition.

The post One Part of Cyprus Mourns, the Other Rejoices 50 Years After Split first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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