Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, the slain soldiers Israel recovered from Hezbollah on Wednesday, were laid to rest.
Thousands flocked to Nahariya Military Cemetery on Thursday morning for the burial of Goldwasser, whose personality became etched in the Israeli consciousness thanks to the two-year public campaign by his wife, Karnit, to liberate him from Lebanon.
“Today, this voyage of ours is over, has come to its end. We, you and I, are moving on to our next voyage, the voyage of my life,” she said in a eulogy.
“You will be a full-time partner, silent and active, hidden but strong, unseen by all, but visible to me, always. You will always be my man, eternally young, walking alongside me my entire life.”
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Israel’s agreement to trade five jailed Lebanese terrorists for Goldwasser and fellow army reservist Eldad Regev was part of a long-standing military ethos.
“If the worst happens to any of you,” he said, turning to the soldiers’ comrades, who served as uniformed pallbearers, “Israel will make every possible and legitimate effort to bring you back home.”
Regev was buried in the afternoon in Haifa Military Cemetery. Barak praised him as “an impressive young man” and Regev’s former commander remembered how he would always be ready to undertake any mission.
Goldwasser and Regev disappeared into captivity in a July 12, 2006 border raid by Hezbollah. The Iranian-backed militia refused to reveal until the last moment that they were dead.
According to Israeli military sources, a forensic examination of the bodies suggested they were killed outright of wounds sustained in the ambush, or died soon after.
Goldwasser was 31 at the time, Regev 26.