Fallen Israeli Officer Who Thwarted Attack Mourned By Hundreds: ‘A Huge Person, Activist for Justice’
More than a thousand mourners gathered on Wednesday evening to honor an Israeli officer killed in the line of duty Tuesday who was remembered for his strength, bravery, and — through his own words and actions — an enduring devotion to his country.
Maj. Bar Falah, 30, deputy commander of the Nahal brigade reconnaissance unit, was fatally shot in a clash with two Palestinian gunmen on Tuesday evening near Gilboa Crossing, north of Jenin in the West Bank.
“He was killed as he and his soldiers heroically confronted and neutralized the terrorists,” said Prime Minister Yair Lapid. “The operation in which he was killed thwarted a major terrorist attack and saved lives.”
One of the Palestinian gunmen, both of whom died in the firefight, was a member of the Palestinian Authority’s intelligence forces, according to the Israeli government. “This escalates things to another level,” said Lapid. “We will not hesitate to act in any place that the Palestinian Authority does not maintain order.”
In the hours following his death, a letter Falah wrote in 2019 to his troops on Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s day of remembrance for fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism, was circulated on social networks and Hebrew-language media.
“On Memorial Day we learn that there is something greater than life itself,” Falah wrote. “There is something for which we are ready to sacrifice our lives — the State of Israel.”
“I will think about this at the time of the siren, while I stand with the nation of Israel in silence, I will remember all those heroes, but I will not bow my head,” he continued. “I will lift my head with a sharp look at the flag, with a broadened chest, with pride, because these are all my brothers, brave and daring, who in the moment of truth put aside all personal desires and give their lives for the sanctification of God, the nation, and the land.”
Falah, who is survived by his mother, his siblings, and his partner, was laid to rest in the military cemetery in his hometown Netanya.
“He took so much onto himself, and always put others before himself,” said his girlfriend Ariel between sobs. “The best person I ever met, the most beloved. I always tell him, the amount of friends you have shows how much of a light you are to everyone.”
“I read, I asked, I dug, just to understand what you go through there in the nights, what a sensitive and good hearted person like you goes through every night,” she said of his work. “How much he would sacrifice.”
“You told me not to worry, that everything would be alright,” said Ariel. “My life, my biggest nightmare has happened.”
“You were a huge person, an activist for justice,” said his cousin Shahar Gavrieli. “You fought violence against women and supported cancer patients, you rode throughout the country to make people happy. You hosted Holocaust survivors … just to satisfy your giant heart, that didn’t rest for a moment. Even tonight you rushed forward, certainly without thinking twice, and you stopped the next catastrophe with your body.”
Amit Swarovski, commander of Oketz, the canine special forces unit where Falah began his military career, remembered his friend as the “strongest fighter with the strongest dog,” and a commander who “led your subordinates with genius.”
“How proud you were of the uniform, how upright you were when you saluted the flag,” he recalled. “You were characterized by a joy for life, social activities, and love of people. I stand here heartbroken and disbelieving that you’re gone.”