About a thousand people came out Thursday to attend the funeral of Ofek Aharon, one of the IDF soldiers who was killed in a friendly-fire incident near an IDF base in the Jordan Valley last night.
Aharon was buried in the Gan Yavneh cemetery. Itamar Elharar, another soldier who was killed in the same incident, was laid to rest earlier in the Kiryat Malachi cemetery. Both soldiers served in the Egoz brigade.
Aharon is survived by his parents, Orit and Eli, and by two sisters. Eli wore his son's military coat at the funeral and cried out: "Ofek, come back!"
"There was negligence here. You received him healthy, return him to me healthy. I want explanations from the chief of staff," the bereaved father said.
Ofek Aharon was born in Eilat and his family moved to Gan Yavne. He was due to be married this coming July. Ofek's sister said at the funeral: "How did you do that Ofek? How many plans did you have? You did not want to die, you protected them all but they did not protect you."
Aharon's brigade commander paid tribute to him, saying: “You loved Egoz so much. Last night a disaster happened. The division between friend and foe became blurred. You are gone, but do not worry, a leader like you leaves strong memories."
Two weeks ago, in a voice which was hoarse after three sleepless days of marching tens of kilometers with 30 kg on his back, Major Aharon was interviewed by Ynet reporter Yoav Zeitun about the recent training exercise in which soldiers simulated combat in the northern arena.
Despite the physical difficulties and mental strain, the officer - who was only identified as Major A.at the time - was sharp, alert and focused, and clarified the value of keeping his subordinates alive - in routine and in combat. "My soldiers are lions, I breathe and smell them throughout the exercise. No Egoz soldier will be abducted in war," he said in the interview.
The IDF is establishing a commission of inquiry headed by Gen. (res.) Noam Tivon, to investigate the tragic shooting of two IDF soldiers on Wednesday night in the Jordan Valley near their base.
The head of the IDF's Central Command, Yehuda Fuchs, described the incident: "An officer who went to investigate the theft of night-vision equipment encountered two officers whom he believed to be terrorists and fired at them at short range."
"In the Nebi Musa area there are several units with a number of tents nearby, and a night prior to this incident, a night-vision device was stolen from this unit and senior officers decided to investigate the theft.
"While an officer was engaged in investigating the theft, the two other officers were patrolling the area, also in order to investigate the theft, without coordination between them. They perceived a figure at a distance of around 200 meters and began to advance toward it, considering it suspicious.
"At the same time, the first officer suddenly heard a noise from behind and was convinced that it was an enemy. He opened fire at the other two soldiers due to this error.
"Medical personnel were immediately summoned but were forced to determine the deaths of the two officers."
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Thursday morning, "This is a very sad morning. I would like to send heartfelt condolences to the families of the two officers who were killed overnight in a tragic accident."
"The two commanders had dedicated their best years to the security of Israel and defending our homeland. The entire people of Israel mourns for them."
"The IDF is investigating the difficult incident and the necessary lessons will be learned," he added. "May their memories be blessed."