Three and half months after 5 soldiers were killed near Kibbutz Nahal Oz in a Hamas terrorist infiltration during Operation Protective Edge, their families came to the scene Wednesday to commemorate and say goodbye to their loved ones.
The guard stand near the Kibbutz was attacked on July 28, when a group of Hamas terrorists emerged from a tunnel and opened fire on the military facility killing five soldiers from Battalion 17: Sergeant Daniel Kedmi, 18, from Tzofim; Sergeant Barkay Ishai Shor, 21, from Jerusalem; Sergeant Sagi Erez, 19, from Kiryat Ata; Sergeant Dor Dery, 18, from Jerusalem; and Sergeant Nadav Raymond, 19, from Shdemot Devorah.
Two other soldiers were injured in what Hamas admitted was a kidnapping attempt. Another soldier managed to prevent the abduction of a body of one of the soldiers who was killed. He reportedly opened fire on the terrorists from the guard position he was in.
After the incident, the families of the fallen soldiers decided to initiate a joint trip to the guard stand. Parents and other family member were brought close to the Gaza Strip yesterday in armored vehicles, accompanied by senior IDF officers.
The families, who had been faced with allegations that the soldiers were not properly prepared for such a scenario, were happy to hear during the visit that their sons had acted properly.
Although prepared and carrying weapons, the terrorists surprised the soldiers and opened fire so fast, that almost no one could have stopped them.
Sergeant Sagi Erez's parents found their son's name written into the guard stand along with the regiment he served in. "Our daughter recognized his handwriting. We were all shaken," his father, Ilan said. "They were heroes, they fought as they had been taught from the first day in the army."
The bereaved father added that "We left with a feeling of sadness, deafening silence, but also a sense of closure. We reached the place where our sons lost their lives. There is also the sense that it could have ended differently, with far fewer casualties. But it was important for us to discover the truth - they actually fought a courageous battle, though it ended in disaster."
Avichai Dery, brother Sergeant Dor Dery, said: "It was closure for us. Although we didn't necessarily learn anything new, our presence there caused great emotion. We had not seen Dor for three weeks before he was killed, so for us to stand in and know the last place he was alive is something very important. "