Thousands of people gathered at Kibbutz Nachshon west of Jerusalem Monday to pay their last respects to Shira Banki, the 16-year-old high school student fatally stabbed at the Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade last Thursday.
Mourners, including classmates, friends and relatives, recalled a “beautiful flower” who was killed in a senseless act of hatred.
Banki was one of six people stabbed by ultra-Orthodox assailant Yishai Schlissel. Evacuated to a local hospital in critical condition, Banki died of her wounds Sunday.
In a funeral ceremony closed to the media, her parents, Uri and Mika, eulogized their daughter. “Shir, an intelligent, beautiful, intelligent, gentle, curious, musical girl… Even adolescence had passed over her with grace, and she blossomed like a beautiful flower.
“All of her innocence, beauty, happiness and goodness fell on the altar of hatred, malice, cruelty and ignorance,” they said. “We are left with pain, longing and shock that every parent would rather die than feel.
“We have no issue with people wearing kippas or with beards,” they continued. “We know that many prayers were said in sincerity and emotion for the recovery of our daughter — both in public and behind closed doors. Our dispute is with hatred and the sanctifying of your objective at the expense of the pain of another person.
“Now we will go home and try to rebuild our family — to learn how to be five instead of six. We will try to hate less and love more; that’s what we can offer you.”
Speaking at a student event Monday, President Reuven Rivlin said Banki “loved to enjoy life, she loved life, and she believed in life.”
“Shira was also a girl of principles. She joined the parade in the name of the values in which she believed — tolerance, equality, hope, and love,” the president said. “The battle against incitement and hatred does not begin and end with police protection – silence and indifference to both real and virtual threats will only increase the danger.”
The president has himself been subjected to death threats recently over his emphatic condemnation of violent acts by extremist Jewish Israelis.
Assailant Schlissel had been released from prison three weeks before the attack after serving 10 years for perpetrating an almost-identical crime at the Gay Pride parade in 2005, when he stabbed three people.
Authorities are under fire for failing to keep Schlissel away from the annual march. He had made a series of public statements indicating that he was planning another attack on the Gay Pride rally. He distributed a handwritten, anti-gay manifesto in which he called the pride march “shameful” and “blasphemous.”
Israel’s Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan said Monday that the murder could “undoubtedly” have been prevented. Jerusalem’s police chief Moshe Edri has accepted responsibility for the failure, but does not intend to resign, Army Radio reported.
Erdan appointed a task force to examine the police’s handling of the parade. In an interview with Israel Radio on Monday, Erdan said the task force would begin its investigation this week, conclude its investigation in some 10 days, and make its findings public.
On Friday, the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court determined Schlissel was fit to stand trial and extended his remand for 12 days. Schlissel said he did not recognize the court’s authority, because it did not comply with Jewish law.
A vigil in Banki’s memory took place in downtown Jerusalem Sunday evening, where hundreds of Banki’s friends, classmates and members of the LGBT community honored her memory.