Benjamin Netanyahu shared a touching tribute to his late brother Yoni, hours ahead of Israel’s national day of mourning for soldiers lost.
The prime minister posted a photo of Yonathan “Yoni” Netanyahu to social media, along with a moving message for Yom Hazikaron, which also honors victims of terror.
Yoni was killed during his heroic efforts in the Entebbe Operation to bring home Israeli and Jewish hostages.
Yom Hazikaron is recognized each year the day before Israeli Independence Day, as a way to honor those who have lost their lives in the struggle to ensure a free and independent Jewish state.
Read Netanyahu’s message below:
Tonight the people of Israel come together to remember our soldiers who fell in battle and the victims of terrorist attacks. We will not forget for one moment that we are here thanks to those who fought and died for us. As part of a bereaved family, I know very well how private grief is entwined with our national pain. Tonight I remember my friends who died in battle for the defense of our homeland.
Tonight, like every day of my life, I remember my beloved brother Yoni, who fell in Operation Entebbe while leading the charge to free Jewish hostages. Yoni commanded the elite Sayeret Matkal force that rescued the passengers who were taken captive in the Ugandan capital, thousands of kilometers from Israel. He was shot by a Ugandan soldier and died of his wounds. Yoni led from the front and died while carrying out the successful operation that he planned.
Every bereaved family remembers the terrible knock on the door, the knock that brings with it the worst news imaginable. I received my knock when I was a student in the United States in the guise of a telephone call from my brother Iddo, telling me of the death of our older brother. It was the worst moment of my life, besides one other moment, seven hours later, after a tortuous nightlong journey, when I walked up the path leading to the house of my mother and father, who was teaching at Cornell University in New York at the time. It was my lot to be the one to break the news. I was the one knocking on my parents’ door. Through the wide window in the front of the house, I could see my father pacing back and forth, lost in thought, his hands joined behind his back as was his wont. He suddenly looked up and when he saw me walking up the path, without his saying a word, his expression changed all at once. A bitter cry burst from his throat. I went into the house. As long as I breathe, I will never forget his cry and that of my dear mother. To get the knock at the door from my brother and then knock on my parents’ door – it was as if Yoni had died twice.
The stories of our fallen loved ones are not just carved in monuments of stone. They are rooted in the hearts of our people. May their memories remain a blessing forever.