Hagai Ben-Ari
Hagai Ben-Ariצילום: באדיבות המשפחה

Maj. Hagai Ben-Ari, who was critically wounded during Israel’s counterterrorism Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in 2014, passed away on Tuesday night.

Ben-Ari, a resident of Nov, a religious Moshav in the Golan Heights, was wounded on July 21, 2014. He suffered a head wound from sniper fire as the forces he led came across Hamas terrorists in Rafah, a border town in southern Gaza near Sinai.

Since that time, Ben-Ari remained unconscious and unable to communicate with his surroundings. He leaves behind a wife and three children.

Ben-Ari will be brought to rest on Wednesday afternoon at 12:00 p.m. at the cemetery in Nov.

In an unusual and moving ceremony in October of 2014, then-Paratroopers Brigade Commander Col. Eliezer Toledano symbolically appointed Ben-Ari as commander of the Paratrooper Commando Unit.

Toledano, at Ben-Ari's hospital bedside, said at the time, "Hagai, I want to tell you what I would have said if I could have there in Khan Younis in the battle as you fought and led the commando unit: that you know and I know that you love from the place you love the most important things in your life.

"You were in battle like you were as a young soldier in the (army) track, as a unit commander; you were upright, you were sure. You were professional during the fight and after you were wounded," continued Toledano.

The Brigade Commander held Ben-Ari's hands as his parents, wife and captains from the unit stood by, saying, "Here in this room at this moment next to your bed I ask your permission to add your name to the list of Paratrooper Commando Unit commanders, a unit that is the diamond in the crown (of the army)."

In the 50 days of the operation 64 soldiers were killed, and 842 Israeli civilians were wounded, including six deaths. Over 2,000 residents of Gaza were killed, with research showing a full 49% of them were terrorists, marking an unprecedented 1:1 ratio of terrorist to civilian ratio almost unheard of in urban combat.