‘He Loved Israel’: Commando Killed in Raid on Palestinian Islamic Jihad Laid to Rest in Jerusalem
A veteran Israeli counter-terrorism officer was remembered as a loving husband and father, and a dedicated public servant, as he was laid to rest in Jerusalem on Sunday among hundreds of mourners.
Sgt. Maj. Noam Raz, 47, was fatally shot on Friday while participating in a raid to capture a Palestinian Islamic Jihad operative in the town of Burqin, near Jenin in the West Bank. He left behind a wife, Efrat, and six children.
“Noam loved Israel and was a hero of Israel,” said Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday. “Only a few weeks ago, Noam saved the life of a senior colleague who had been severely wounded in a clash with terrorists in the Tul Karem area.”
Raz had served in Israel’s elite police counter-terrorism unit Yamam for 23 years, and also volunteered as a paramedic with United Hatzalah. Crowds gathered along the road from his family’s home in Kida in the West Bank to the cemetery on Mount Herzl, waving Israeli flags in a show of respect for the fallen commando.
“We always knew you were a golden person,” one of Raz’s sons, Beri, tearfully told mourners, “but only now are we beginning to understand to what extent. There is no such thing as a perfect person, but you were the closest that existed.”
“You always had a dream of dedicating a Torah scroll,” Beri said. “You saved up for it, even withdrew your [military release deposit]. We will fulfill your dream, but who would have believed it would be in honor of your soul’s ascent to heaven?”
Another son, Eitam, recalled of his father, “[you had] so many things to be proud of, yet remained so humble. [You were] so busy, yet still always looked for ways to help.”
“May we succeed in learning from you how to honor our parents, how to always find joy in the simple things,” he said. “In short, may we be more like you.”
Raz’s wife, Efrat, described her late husband as a modest man who did not need much to be content. “Thank you for choosing me to be your wife,” she said. “Thank you for the children, who are growing to be more like you. Thank you for 20 good, good years together, which is so much, and so little. … The heart breaks with longing and love.”
Speaking at the funeral, Amir Cohen, commander of Israel’s Border Police, said Raz “acted with a courageous spirit and rare bravery … in countless complex and dangerous operations, to save the lives of many citizens of the State of Israel, and of your friends-in-arms.”
Also on Sunday, the Israeli military for the first time publicly disclosed the name of Lt. Col. Mahmoud Kheir el-Din, a paratrooper who was killed in a special operation in the Gaza Strip in 2018. A resident of the Druze village of Hurfeish in northern Israel, el-Din left behind a wife and two sons.
“Both Mahmoud and Noam dedicated their lives to defending the citizens of Israel,” said Bennett at a cabinet meeting on Sunday. “This is the place to recall that they fell in initiated operations designed to counter murderous and bloodthirsty Palestinian terrorism.”
“There is good and bad in this story: It is Palestinian terrorists who have murdered 19 of our sons and daughters with inconceivable brutality — with axes, knives and live fire” in recent weeks, the premier added. “Here I say this clearly: The government of Israel is placing no restrictions on the fight against terrorism, and we will not slacken, even in the face of the mendacious propaganda that is being leveled at Israel.”