Father of terror victim Eliav Gelman: We accept the sacrifice

Thousands of people gathered late at night at the military cemetery in Kfar Etzion on Wednesday to pay their final respects to Maj. (res.) Eliav Gelman, who had been killed in a terrorist attack earlier in the day.

Gelman, 31, is survived by his wife Rinat and sons, Yair, 5, and Yoav, 2. His wife is due to give birth to their third child in several weeks.

“Who will take the children to synagogue now?” Gelman’s brother, Eyal, demanded at the funeral. “Who will support Rinat when she gives birth in a month and a half?”

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Gelman was on his way home to the community of Karmei Tzur after four days of reserve duty in a unit that coordinates between the military’s air force and ground forces when a terrorist pounced on him at a hitchhiking station at the Gush Etzion Junction. Gelman managed to draw his weapon, but was accidentally shot by security forces aiming for the terrorist.

Initial investigations revealed that two combat soldiers who were securing the area were already suspicious of the Palestinian before the attack, and engaged in “suspect protocol,” calling out to him to freeze. But when the terrorist saw that he had been spotted, he pulled out a knife and ran toward the hitchhiking station. The soldiers opened fire, but initially missed, and hit him only as he approached Gelman, who was also hit. A team of emergency medical personnel evacuated Gelman in critical condition to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, where he died two hours later.

The terrorist was moderately wounded and was also evacuated to a nearby hospital for treatment.

Gelman was one of six siblings: four brothers and two sisters. The three eldest brothers, including Gelman, were all Israel Defense Forces officers: Raanan and Eyal Gelman were senior officers in the Givati Brigade, and Eliav Gelman was a company commander in Unit 202 of the Paratroopers Brigade. The fourth brother is currently serving in an elite unit.

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In 2014, Gelman took part in Operation Protective Edge, where his relative, Maj. Benaya Sarel, was killed. Eyal Gelman, Eliav’s brother, is married to Sarel’s sister.

In recent months, Gelman, who was a career soldier, was discharged from service and began studying development and training in hopes of integrating into a civilian security position. He spent every available moment with his young sons, as though he was compensating them for the years that he was consumed with his military duties. He and his wife were looking forward to the birth of their third child.

“I had always wondered which one of us would be killed,” eulogized his brother Eyal. “My younger brother, you excelled at everything you did. Remember when I left you a letter at the officers’ training base, just like Raanan left one for me? We will leave your letter for Yair.

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“Over the last few months, your children got a chance to spend a lot of time with you, after years of demanding and exhausting service. During Operation Protective Edge, Benaya was killed. And now we are once again paying the price. Rinat, how the mighty have fallen. You chose the names of heroes. He cared about you so much.”

Raanan also eulogized his brother, saying, “My younger brother Eliav, I want to thank you for the opportunity to have been in your company, sweet brother. You were in charge of order and organization. You knew what you wanted. You had a clear worldview and agenda. These are not final respects — the respect is the nation’s.”

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“You were always a role model,” Eliav’s younger brother, Itamar, added. “I always wanted to be like you. You never missed. I remember every time I was wrong, I would remember your face and think about what you would say to me if you were with me, knowing that it would never have happened to you.”

Tzofia, Eliav’s sister, said, “There was a calm about you. You were always guided by the light of the truth. I always wanted to build a home filled with calm, the way yours was. It was only yesterday that you called to help me with my studies, and you didn’t hang up until you were sure that I understood. I started knitting you a kippah, but I haven’t finished. It had to be perfect, like you. Why are you finished then?

“Protect us. Please let your death be the last one.”

The final eulogy was given by Eliav’s father, David.

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“Aharon the priest lost two of his sons to glorify God,” he said. “It is with great pain that we accept the sacrifice and understand that we, too, were chosen to pay to glorify God. Eliav, go in peace and rest in peace together with everyone who glorifies God.”

Gelman is the 33rd victim of the current wave of Palestinian terrorism that began five months ago.