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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Druze commando buried with honors, but not in IDF cemetery

Last update - 09:05 10/04/2008    
 Druze commando buried with honors, but not in IDF cemetery 
By Jack Khoury,
Haaretz Correspondent 
Until Wednesday, four soldiers from the Druze village of Jatt in the Western Galilee had died during their Israel Defense Forces service.
The four, locals say, died serving the army but not during combat duty. They were interred in a civilian, not military cemetery, because the town does not have a military cemetery, despite the many locals who serve in the army.
Staff Sergeant Sayef Bisan of the Egoz elite unit was killed during combat duty in Gaza on Wednesday but was also interred in a civilian plot. The head of the local council, Sheikh Jadalla Saed, does not know why there is no military cemetery in Jatt, unlike the nearby village of Yanu'ah. "There were lots of inquiries in the past," the sheikh said.
"The Israel Lands Administration said that the plot we designated as the military cemetery would harm the landscape. It's a real insult."
The Israel Land Administration said the Defense Ministry's department caring for fallen soldiers' commemoration were responsible for creating a military cemetery, and that it would not be averse to changing the land's designation, so long as a detailed plan is drawn-up in cooperation with the Defense Ministry and the local council.
The Defense Ministry, however, says Bisan's family asked to inter him in the family burial site. They added that the Lands Administration had allocated a plot for a military cemetery and its construction is in the pipeline. "Had the family asked for a military burial we would have prepared it within hours," the Defense Ministry said.
Meanwhile, the village of Jatt was in mourning, as many of its inhabitants and people from nearby villages visited the Bisan family's home. Jihad Abid, the deputy mayor of Jat-Yanu'ah and a cousin of Bisan, told Haaretz that his entire family serves in the IDF with pride. The late soldier's brother is an officer in a combat unit and his father
also served in the army.
"He's a guy everybody loved and respected," Abid said. "Everyone praised him. He was a friend with people of different families, clans and ages. I am 52, and I always enjoyed chatting to him. The army was a place of pride for him, the fact that he was in an elite unit demonstrates his bravery and excellence."
Karim Bisan, the soldier's uncle, said Sayef did not like to talk about his membership in an elite unit with people outside his close circle.
Bisan was on leave last weekend and visited his family. Relatives said that his unit's involvement in fighting in Gaza was a constant source of worry. He was interred Wednesday in a funeral with full military honors.
The Druze spiritual leader in Israel, Sheikh Muafek Tarif, eulogized Bisan, followed by the head of the local council and his unit's commander, who said he was the "soul of our unit."

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