MK Shuli Muallem (Bayit Yehudi) says she cannot understand how hareidi-religious Jews could disrespect a monument to IDF soldiers.
Residents of the Sha’ar Yashuv community in northern Israel were shocked to see two hareidi-religious families splashing around in a memorial pool at a monument built to honor the memory of 73 fallen IDF soldiers who died.
Muallem’s husband, Lt.-Col. Moshe Muallem, was the highest-ranking officer to die in the 1997 tragedy in which two IDF Yas’ur 2000 helicopters collided over Sha’ar Yashuv.
The two aircraft were on their way to bring troops into Israel’s security zone in southern Lebanon, but were hovering to await official clearance prior to departure. Seventy-three soldiers died in the tragedy, Israel’s deadliest air disaster ever.
The monument built to honor the memory of the soldiers includes 73 special stones, and a memorial pool with the names of the fallen listed in mosaic tiles beneath the calming waters.
One of the bathers – a hareidi-religious man – acknowledged that he understood the pool was a memorial. But it did not stop either family from using the site as a swimming pool and brazenly splashing around. “Water does not raise a person’s soul, and there’s nothing sacred about it,” he shouted at a resident who questioned his actions. “I prefer to talk to G-d. I pay taxes just like you, and I will do here as I please.”
Muallem told Israel’s Channel 10 television station Wednesday evening she was torn between trying to understand how people could desecrate a site she “and 72 other families see as holy,” and trying not to blame the entire hareidi-religious population for the incident.
“I can forgive them, but I hope they can find a way to forgive themselves for it,” Muallem told the interviewer.
In response to a general uproar over the incident, hareidi-religious Sephardic Shas leader Eli Yishai warned in a post on his Facebook page, The public must judge the act, and not the community and population to which those who have no respect belong.”
Yishai condemned the actions of the families who were splashing around in the memorial pool as a “severe act of disrespect and a lack of honor you display towards those killed while serving in the IDF.”