Former Defense Minister laid to rest

Former Labor Party chief and Defense Minister Binyamin 'Fuad' Ben-Eliezer laid to rest in Holon.

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The funeral
The funeral
Yoni Kempinski

Former minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer, who passed away at the age of 80, was laid to rest on Tuesday afternoon in the Holon cemetery. He was buried next to his parents, as he had requested.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke at the funeral. "Over the several times I met him, he told me of his childhood, and how he immigrated to our land. I saw how unrestrained Zionism beat within him.

"He was the [veritable] expression of the idea of revival, the idea of gathering the exiled [Jews to Israel], and the idea of a connection with the Arab world and with the minorities who live among us. I loved Fuad, and it was hard not to love him."

Netanyahu continued, telling how "the first time I heard the name of Fuad, was when I was in the [IDF] Sayeret Matkal special commando force. His good name preceded him - he was a famous symbol.

"I loved Fuad as I know you all loved him - I carry with me many memories of him," added the Prime Minister.

Former President Shimon Peres also spoke at the funeral. "Fuad, your friends gathered here, separated from you, with deep sorrow. You are deeply rooted in the fields of Israel. You built her roads. You protected her borders and towns," said Peres.

"You were a man of the people...a beloved commander of the [IDF] Shaked special forces, commander of Judea and Samaria. A fearless fighter against terrorism. Yet, along with you this, you knew how to reach out to bring people together. To find allies among our neighbors, to reduce the conflict between rivals, to build bridges."

Peres added, "As coordinator of activities in the territories, you proved that we are not a warmongering nation, but a nation that seeks peace. You eased [the lives] of the people...you created coexistence. You held danger at bay, and sowed the seeds of hope. You led the Labor Party, and you established a massive camp of friends...who were conquered by your heartfelt smile, your immense heart."

"In the Knesset, many came to hear your advice. To learn from your experience. And you, you answered wholeheartedly. Also in the international arena, you made warm friendships. Leaders of Jordan and Egypt listened to your good ideas. Here, we have come to bid you farewell, representatives of all your friends, from the right, from the left, religious and secular, friends from all denominations and political parties, representatives of different religions.

"We have come to say thank you for your contribution to state security, for the seeds of hope which you spread, for your humanity, for your firm handshake. May your memory be blessed," Peres concluded.

Head of the Labor Party, Isaac Herzog, also mourned Ben Eliezer's passing. He told of their relationship, which lasted until the end. "Since you resigned from the Knesset, I made certain to visit you for a personal conversation at least once a month. It was a sort of small, private, ceremony, known to those who frequented your home to strengthen you. You would start by pushing hot sambusak on a plate, and pouring strong tea. From there, we would move on to current affairs, affairs of state, and to the cloud of pain which accompanied the waning of your life...at our last meeting, around a month ago, it was already very difficult for you to walk, but your booming voice continued."