JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israel’s Defense Ministry denied a request to have an off-duty soldier killed in a supermarket stabbing attack declared a fallen soldier.
Sergeant First Class Tuvia Yanai Weisman was unarmed and not in uniform when he was killed Feb. 18 at the Rami Levi supermarket in Shaar Binyamin, north of Jerusalem. His widow, Yael Weisman, had sought to have her husband’s grave attest that he “fell in battle during a terror attack.”
On Sunday, the Defense Ministry ruled that Tuvia Weisman would be labelled a victim of terror and not a fallen soldier on his gravestone, according to Yael. He was buried in Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem.
Yael Weisman has said that when her husband saw two Palestinian teenagers enter the store and begin to stab shoppers, he left his wife and 4-month-old daughter to try to help, leading him to be killed by one of the stabbers.
In a Facebook post Sunday, Yael wrote: “My beloved Yanai – who would have believed that just a little more than two weeks after the day you fell in heroic battle, during those seconds in which you stormed those terrorists with your hands empty, I would have to contend with systemic inflexibility at its finest. Instead of dealing with how and in what way to commemorate you, I have to deal with making sure the circumstances of your death are accurately stated. I don’t have any complaints regarding our great people and the military, which is embracing us, who made sure to appreciate and honour your brave actions.”
The Ministry of Defense responded in a statement: “The Ministry of Defense shares the heavy grief of the Weisman family. The soldier commemoration unit works according to the regulations of gravestone writing, and determines the circumstances of death according to information it receives from different security bodies.”
Weisman was identified by the U.S. State Department as an American citizen.