Israeli military chief Gantz apologizes to dead soldier’s family

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, the Israel Defense Forces’ chief of staff, apologized to the family of an Israeli soldier who was killed for not honoring him because his Jewishness is in doubt. 

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Gantz visited the family of Yevgeny Tolochko in Jerusalem on Monday.

In a ceremony on Sunday in which a flag is placed on the grave of the last Israeli soldier to be killed, Gantz placed the flag on the grave of another soldier rather than Tolochko, who is buried in a section of the Mount Herzl military cemetery set aside for those whose Jewishness is in doubt.

The military’s policy also will be changed so that the flag of the chief of staff goes on the last military casualty regardless of where he or she is buried, Ynet reported, citing the Israel Defense Forces.

“In the eyes of the chief of staff, the deceased soldier’s identity, cause of death, religion and gender are of no import,” the IDF Spokesperson’s Office said in a statement following Sunday’s incident.

Tolochko’s family told Ynet that following the visit by Gantz, they consider the matter closed.

Tolochko was killed in a training accident in February.

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