|"Just Three Weeks Ago We
Stood by an Open Grave"
- the commander of the Nahal reconnaissance
unit, Major H. told Yonatan. Three weeks ago Yonatan was a member of the
honor guard at the funeral of Uri Biton (may his memory be blessed), his
colleague from the unit.
By Ronen Tal,
correspondent for Yediot Achronot
Just three weeks ago Lieutenant Yonatan
Zirkel (21) stood in the honor guard at the burial ceremony for First
Sergeant Uri Biton (may his memory be blessed), his colleague from the
Nahal reconnaissance unit, who was killed in South Lebanon. Yesterday
Yonatan's colleagues from the reconnaissance unit stood in the honor guard
- at his funeral.
Yesterday, at six in the morning, army
officers entered through the gates of Kibbutz Shoval, in the south. They
informed the Zirkel family that Yonatan had been killed in Lebanon.
Yonatan's mother, Susie, an English teacher, and his father Moshe, the
manager of the kibbutz's factory, remained closeted in their home with
their daughter Maya (10) and their son, Boaz, who is also a soldier in the Nahal.
"When he finished officers' training, he wasn't able to wipe the grin
off his face. For days he went around with a big smile plastered over his
Towards evening, Yonatan's coffin was
placed in the library of the kibbutz and hundreds of mourners passed in
front of it. Members of the family, accompanied by hundreds of kibbutz
members, accompanied the coffin up the hill to the kibbutz cemetery. The
commanding officer of the Nahal, Major General Ran Galinka, placed a wreath
on the fresh grave. The commander of the Nahal's reconnaissance
unit, Major H., told Yonatan, "What's left to say? That you were the
best of us? Just three weeks ago we stood at an open grave, and now,
again, we look for the words, that seem empty of meaning."
Yonatan's brother, Boaz, told how he was
"crazy" about army service, "When he finished officers'
training, he wasn't able to wipe the grin off his face. For days he went
around with a big smile plastered over his face. The division and the unit
were so important to him."
Uri, a colleague from the unit, told how
Yonatan was like "a tree with a broad trunk and deep roots. But a
roadside bomb," sobbed Uri, "will bring down even the strongest
[picture caption] Yonatan
Zirkel (at left) stands at the head of the honor guard at the funeral of
Uri Biton (may his memory be