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Jun 27, 2003 | 27th of Sivan, 5763 | כ״ז בסיון תשס״ג
June 27, 2003 – Sgt.Maj. Erez Ashkenazi, 21 of Kibbutz Reshafim, an Israeli navy commando was killed in an operation in Gaza to capture a Hamas cell.
The operation which began close to 4 A.M. on Friday morning, was aimed at capturing a Hamas cell believed responsible for several bombings and the firing of anti-tank missiles in the Netzarim area. IDF commander in the Gaza Strip said the cell was planning to attack an Israeli convoy including a civilian bus on the Karni-Netzarim road on Friday. During the raid on the house of the terror cell leader Amran al-Rol, Amran came out armed and the soldiers shot him dead. His brother Mahmoud activated an explosive near a corner of the house where Erez Ashkenazi, another soldier and the squadron’s doctor were positioned. Ashkenazi died en route to hospital.
Erez grew up on Kibbutz Reshafim in the Beit Shean Valley had dreamt of serving as a navy commando since 9th grade. Although he was given the options of fulfilling his army service as an outstanding athlete or of serving as a pilot in the air force, he chose to fulfill his dream. Erez was a member of the volleyball team of the Beit Shean Valley Hapoel team as well as of the national youth squad. He was also an avid fan of the Hapoel Tel-Aviv soccer and basketball teams.
Erez celebrated his 21st birthday with his family a week before he was killed. His father Yinon said:
“Whenever we parted I would tell him to take care of himself. He always replied that sometimes you go to battle and don’t return.” Yinon Ashkenazi’s brother Yaron was killed in the Yom Kippur War on the Golan Heights at the age of 21.
“Erez was willing to give everything back to the Palestinians. A leftist, he was active in Meretz Youth and participated in demonstrations. All that is left now are memories and photos.”
Erez’s commander said:
“Erez was one of the best fighters. He fought like a lion and gave those around him a sense of security. He had a special sparkle in his eye.”
Next April when Erez was to have completed his compulsory army service and begun service in the regular army and was planning to marry his girlfriend of the last three years, Malki.
Sgt. Maj. Erez Ashkenazi was buried in Kibbutz Reshafim. He is survived by his parents Yinon and Batya, his brother Aviv 28 and his sisters Roni 29, and Lilach 17, as well as his grandmother Ariela Ashkenazi 84.
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