An Israeli national under 20s football player scored a historic goal against football giant Brazil in the U20 FIFA World Cup Saturday night, and dedicated it to the three IDF soldiers killed earlier that day in an attack along the Egyptian border.
Dor Turgeman, after having secured Israel’s upset 3-2 win over Brazil in extra time, pointed to his wristband where it read “In memory of the border attack victims” in Hebrew.
הגוף בארגנטינה, הלב בישראל. דור תורג'מן מקדיש את השער לנרצחי הפיגוע— כאן (@kann) June 3, 2023
📸 FIFA pic.twitter.com/rWvxUDo7sO
Israel twice came back from a goal down with equalisers, before Turgeman finally belted the winning goal at the end of the first half of extra time.
Former professional player turned U20 head coach, Ofir Haim, said: “This is for the entire nation. I want to unite this amazing, wonderful country. We have players who believe in themselves, we have the capability. We want to reach the finals.”
Israel’s U20 FIFA World Cup win over Brazil advances them to the semi-finals, where it will play the winner of Sunday’s match between the United States and Uruguay.
The under-20 World Cup tournament was to be held in Indonesia, but the world’s most populous Muslim country was stripped of hosting duties earlier this year after it objected to Israel’s participation in the tournament.
Israel qualified for the 2023 U20 FIFA World Cup by virtue of its performance at the 2022 UEFA European Under-19 Championship, when they finished second behind England.
Dor Turgeman's nicely taken goal which knocked out Brazil and sent Israel to the semifinals of the U20 World Cup https://t.co/WzU1GNDSmL— James Nalton (@JDNalton) June 4, 2023
Following the win, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to Haim to congratulate him on the “historic” achievement.
On Twitter Netanyahu wrote, “On a day of sadness, you brought joy and pride on a level that is difficult to describe. I watched every minute of the game Israeli football has never had a day like this,”
אל אל ישראל 🇮🇱— Benjamin Netanyahu - בנימין נתניהו (@netanyahu) June 3, 2023
הנבחרת הצעירה שלנו עשתה היסטוריה והביאה גאווה ענקית למדינת ישראל!
Earlier in the day, an Egyptian policeman shot and killed two Israeli soldiers who had been manning a guard post near the border, the IDF said. A further exchange of fire in the area hours later, inside Israeli territory, resulted in the deaths of the gunman and another IDF soldier.
The IDF, initially barring the publication of the soldiers’ identities so the families could be notified, later named Saturday’s victims as Sgt. Lia Ben Nun, 19, from Rishon Lezion, Staff Sgt. Ori Yitzhak Iluz, 20, from the northern city of Safed, and Staff Sgt. Ohad Dahan, 20, from Ofakim, who was killed later in a shootout with the gunman.
All three were combat soldiers in the Bardelas Battalion, which is a mixed-gender infantry unit charged with defending Israel’s border with Egypt.
IDF spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari told Israeli reporters that Iluz and Ben Nun had started a shift together at the army post on Friday evening, but when the pair did not answer radio calls early Saturday morning, an officer was dispatched to the scene where he discovered the pair dead.
Hours later, as troops were carrying out searches in the area for the suspected terrorist, more gunfire was exchanged and Ofakim was killed. So too was the attacker.
Hagari said the same gunman was likely responsible for the morning’s border attack.
Sgt. Lia Ben Nun (19)— Chaim • חיים (@ChaimSmierc) June 3, 2023
Staff Sgt. Ohad Dahan (20)
Staff Sgt. Uri Itzhak Illuz (20)
May their memory be forever a blessing 🕯️💔 pic.twitter.com/yg0VtfAA8v
In a statement, the Egyptian army offered “sincere condolences” to the families of the victims and said the attacker had been an officer in charge of border security who had been chasing suspected drug smugglers when he crossed Israel’s security barrier.
“During the pursuit, he crossed the security barrier and an exchange of fire began, in which three Israeli security personnel were killed,” the army said.
Netanyahu said: "The incident at the Egyptian border is serious and unusual, and will be thoroughly investigated. Israel sent a clear message to the Egyptian government: we expect the joint investigation to be exhaustive and thorough."
Israel’s Egypt border has been relatively calm since the 1979 peace treaty between the two countries, but the Egyptian army has occasionally opened fire on drug smugglers and northern Sinai jihadist groups.