Protective Edge victim Hagai Ben Ari laid to rest

Major Hagai Ben Ari (32) mortally wounded during Protective Edge campaign in 2014, who died Tuesday, laid to rest in the Golan Heights

Hezky Baruch ,

Moriyah Ben Ari eulogizes her husband
Moriyah Ben Ari eulogizes her husband
Chezky Baruch

Major Hagai Ben Ari (32) who was mortally wounded during the course of the Protective Edge campaign in 2014 and died Tuesday, is being laid to rest in the Golan Heights. The funeral procession left from Ben-Ari's town of Nov and proceeded to the cemetery in Hispin, where he is being buried.

Ben Ari was hit by a sniper's bullet which penetrated his helmet. He was taken by helicopter to Soroka hospital, where doctors performed a series of lifesaving operations on him. The doctors said that his head injury was so severe that there was no chance of his recovering from it and it was a miracle that he was still alive.

Hagai remained unconscious and in a vegetative state since his injury and did not communicate with his surroundings.

Brigadier-General Eliezer Toledano symbolically gave Hagai the command of the paratroop commando unit after his serious injury, a command he was supposed to have assumed at the time of the war. Toledano eulogized him, stating that "today the war ended for an outstanding Israeli officer. You were loved by your soldiers and I salute your bravery and your life."

Ben Ari's commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Uri Tauber, commented on Hagai's leadership abilities and his willingness to stand at the front of his unit during the Protective Edge campaign, while former defense minister Moshe Yaalon said that Ben Ari demonstrated who is a real hero.

Hagai's father, Yonatan, described the decision to bring Hagai home for the past year and a half. He said that there is no comfort for his son's loss but at least "we merited being with you for another two and a half years."

Hagai's brother Noam spoke about the difficult years he and his family had gone through. "We held on to what we had and adapted to this life. How much have we cried over these two years- if he was meant to die, he should die but why so much suffering?" Noam referred to his parents devotion to their son and said to his sister-in-law, Moriyah "you are our sister and the children are our children. Together we will be strong and cope because there is no alternative."

Ben Ari's wife Moriyah eulogized him by saying that "everything you did in totality, without compromises and perfectly. You loved me to the end until I was forced to love myself. You wrote such perfect notes to me that I had to believe they were sincere. And when you were injured- you went all the way.

"They say you were a hero. You wanted- that was your true bravery.

"I couldn't fall asleep so I walked between the [children's] beds. I wish you could know them and see how beautifully they are growing up. People always say at funerals that they cannot speak in the past tense- and I have been preparing for this for two and a half years, years that were so the opposite of you and that you did not deserve to suffer through," said his wife.

A family friend, Menahem Orbach, described his feelings towards Ben Ari as tilting between despair and hope but said that Ben Ari left a rich legacy as a responsible person who went unflinchingly into battle. Despite being a devoted family man, he was also devoted to his nation and his country."

Ben Ari left a wife, Moriyah, and three children. He was the 68th IDF victim of the Protective Edge campaign.