Israeli soldier of Indian origin dies in combat

Thousands of people took part in the funeral of a 27-year-old Israeli soldier of Indian origin, killed after being hit by a mortar shell near the Gaza Strip border while Israel was holding fire under a U.N.-brokered humanitarian truce.

Barak Refael Degorker, killed on Saturday night, was laid to rest Monday in a military cemetery in his hometown of Gan Yavne.

53d76012b20ac.preview-300The bereaved family – parents Ora and Moshe, two younger brothers and a sister – were inconsolable at their loss. They spoke about a “kind-hearted” man whose death has left a “permanent void” in their lives.

The two brothers, also doing reserve duty at the Gaza border, were the first ones to receive news of Degorker’s death.

“My brother would volunteer in all situations and he would do whatever was required of him,” one of the brothers said at the funeral, breaking down.

His sister said it was “hard to wake up to a world in which you are not here. It’s hard to describe the pain. You are everyone’s hero and my personal hero. I love you my brother, guard us from above.”

Degorker was in a reserve unit of the Engineers Corps and was stationed close to the Strip with other units when he was injured by the mortar fire.

One of his relatives told PTI Degorker had recently finished law school with distinction and had begun an internship.

“He had so many plans for the future. All of us would always say he would go far in life. We had so much expectations…he died so that we all could live,” the relative said.

A young soldier from Degorker’s unit said he “was a leader who would go to any extent for his friends.”

“He was a man that everybody followed. He always had sound advice for people around him who appreciated his intelligence. Barak would always do the maximum possible and would go out of the way to help his close ones,” the soldier said.

Degorker belonged to the Bene-Israel community, which has its origin in the Mumbai region, and is the largest community of Indian Jews in Israel. There are about 80,000 Indian Jews living in Israel.

Many other youngsters from the community are also fighting for the Israel Defense Forces in Gaza. The deadly 20-day conflict between Hamas and Israel has killed over 1,000 Palestinians and 46 Israelis.