David Grossman
Ariel Schalit  /  AP
David Grossman, a renowned novelist and peace activist in Israel, speaks Thursday before a press conference in Tel Aviv. His son Uri, a sergeant in the Israeli army, was killed on Saturday.
updated 8/13/2006 9:56:16 PM ET 2006-08-14T01:56:16

The son of Israeli novelist and peace activist David Grossman has been killed in southern Lebanon, the army said Sunday, just days after the author urged the government to end the war with Hezbollah guerrillas.

Staff Sgt. Uri Grossman who served in an armored unit, was killed Saturday when an anti-tank missile hit his tank, according to the military. He was 20.

The unit was participating in Israel’s final push deep into Lebanon aimed at maximizing Israeli gains against Hezbollah guerrillas before a U.N.-ordered cease-fire was to take effect.

Tearful friends and relatives gathered Sunday morning at the Grossman home in the Jerusalem suburb of Mevasseret Tzion.

A statement from the family described Uri as a young man with a wonderful sense of humor, who planned to travel abroad and study theater after his scheduled release from the army in November.

Twenty-four Israelis were killed in Lebanon on Saturday, but Uri Grossman’s death evoked particular national pathos.

His father, whose novels and political essays have been translated into 20 languages, is an outspoken advocate of conciliation with the Arabs and of ending Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.

But, like most Israelis, David Grossman supported Israel’s retaliation when Hezbollah fighters attacked an army patrol inside Israel on July 12 and unleashed a barrage of rockets on civilians in the north.

By Thursday he said the war had gone on long enough.

The turning point came the previous day when the government approved a plan to launch an 11th-hour campaign to inflict a devastating blow to the guerrillas.

In a joint news conference with fellow novelists Amos Oz and A.B. Yehoshua , Grossman denounced the plan as dangerous and counterproductive.

Dire warning
“Out of concern for the future of Israel and our place here, the fighting should be stopped now, to give a chance to negotiations,” he said.

Grossman, an Israeli-born son of a refugee from Nazi Europe, urged Israel to accept a proposal by Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora — which later formed the core of the U.N. resolution for ending the conflict — calling for the deployment of Lebanese troops in southern Lebanon with the help of an international force that would end Hezbollah’s virtual control over the area.

“This solution is the victory that Israel wanted,” Grossman said. He warned that stepping up the offensive could trigger the collapse of Saniora’s government and the strengthening of Hezbollah — the very force Israel set out to destroy.

“It’s still possible to prevent it,” Grossman said. “This is the last moment.”

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