Military funeral
Military funeral Israel news photo: Flash 90

Staff Sergeant Ilan Sviatkovsky was laid to rest Sunday in the military cemetery in Rishon L'Tzion. The young soldier was killed Friday in a clash with Gaza terrorists.

Sviatkovsky was survived by his parents and a brother, Eric. His brother eulogized him at the funeral, saying, “You were more than just a big brother, you were a hero who sacrificed himself for the country he loved so much. I was given a gift when I merited to be your brother.”

Sviatkovsky was also eulogized by his girlfriend, Shiran, who recalled Ilan as “full of life.”

The Sviatkovsky family made Aliyah (immigrated) to Israel from Uzbekistan in 1994. Retired IDF General Elazar Stern noted that fact in honoring Ilan on Sunday, noting that immigrants from the former Soviet Union play a vital role in guarding Israel, and often serve in the most dangerous combat positions.

Ilan was not Jewish according to halacha (Jewish law), but had nearly completed an IDF conversion course and was planning to convert after finishing his tour of combat in Gaza. He was given a Jewish burial, with approval from rabbis, in honor of the fact that he saw himself as part of the Jewish people and had intended to make his status official.

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