Natan Elbaz was born to a Jewish-Moroccan family, in the Moroccan city of Zepora, on October 17th, 1932. His family was very religious, descendants of a famous dynasty of rabbis who lived in the city for hundreds of years. Like most religious Jewish families in Morocco, Natan's family wasn't Zionist, but unlike religious families in Europe, didn't view Zionism as an enemy.
Natan was charmed by the Zionist movement starting from a very young age. He dreamt of coming to Israel and taking part in the establishment of the Jewish country.
The Israeli-Arab war which broke out in 1947 caused mixed emotions among the Jews of Morocco. On the one hand, many like Natan, sympathized with the Zionist movement's struggle for a Jewish state. On the other hand, many Jews were afraid that as a result of the war, their civil, religious and economic rights will decrease.
For Natan, there was no question, regarding the Zionist issue. He was a true Zionist, with all of his heart. After celebrating his 20th birthday in October of 1952, he joined a secret Zionist organization and came to Israel. His parents weren't aware of his plans, but after no traces of him were found for a few days, they guessed he had gone to Israel. Only after safely reaching Israel, he wrote a letter to his parents and told them all about what he was going through.
His parents were worried for him, obviously, especially after he joined the Israeli IDF. Natan was sent to the military base at Beit-Lid, close to the city of Netanya. He told his parents not to worry, because he was stationed in the middle of the country, far from the dangerous border areas.
On February 11th, 1954, Natan received a usual every-day mission: Together with a few other soldiers, he was asked to unload a bag of military grenades. The soldiers were asked to commit such missions very often.
As the soldiers were sitting in a military tent and unloading the grenades, Natan suddenly heard a knocking sound, the sound which means a grenade has been activated. Natan remembered what his commanders told him – once a grenade is activated, it takes less than 5 seconds until a deadly explosion will take place.
Natan didn't hesitate even for one moment. He grabbed the grenade and ran out of the tent, in order to throw it as far as possible. But when he stood outside his tent, Natan looked around and all he saw was people. Hundreds of soldiers and workers. Natan understood that throwing the grenade, would risk the life of everyone around him.
He had only seconds to reach a decision.
Natan held the grenade close to his heart, and jumped on the ground. A second later, the Beit-Lid military camp was shocked by a large sound of explosion. When the dust was cleared away, only on casualty was found. Private Natan Elbaz took his own life, in order to save the lives of everyone around him.
After his death, Natan was awarded a citation from the Chief-of-Staff of the IDF.