KIRYAT ARBA — Hundreds of mourners attended the funeral on Thursday afternoon of 13-year-old Hallel Yaffa Ariel, hours after she was stabbed to death in her bed in the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba by a teenage Palestinian terrorist.
Her mother, Rina, eulogized her as “a flower” and a “pure soul,” and asked how it could be that a child of her age had been taken from them. “How can you say farewell to a child of thirteen-and-a-half?… What words can one use to eulogize a flower, a pure soul?” she asked plaintively.
As the tearful ceremonies got under way, her father, Amichai, recited the Kaddish (Jewish mourners’ prayer) in the family’s front yard, while her mother cried over her body. After the prayers, the initial group of several dozen mourners walked to a local school for a funeral ceremony, before the burial at the Old Hebron Cemetery.
The procession stopped at the courtyard of the school, where family and members of the community spoke. Hundreds of mourners were present, among them Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel and Education Minister Naftali Bennett.
Bennett, head of the Orthodox-nationalist Jewish Home party, vowed to mourners that Israel would continue to build homes for Jews on both sides of the Green Line. “We will build, in Sarona and Kiryat Arba, in Jaffa and Jerusalem, in Itamar and Beersheba,” he said, mentioning locations that have seen other recent acts of terrorism.
Echoing a similar sentiment from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier in the day, Bennett said there was no difference between terror attacks in Kiryat Arba and in Paris, and warned that anyone who does try to make such a distinction “brings the next terror attack upon himself.”
The minister paid tribute to Hallel, who was stabbed to death in her bed as she slept. “There was no reason for you to be here today. You should have been dancing or volunteering,” Bennett said. “You are a link in the chain of Jewish heroism standing up to anti-Semitism. Our enemies think they can break our history of living in Hebron. They are wrong.”
Addressing Hallel’s parents, Likud Knesset member Yehudah Glick said that nobody in the world should have to see their child’s bedroom and a mattress covered in blood. “Sovereign of the World, enough of parents burying their children,” Glick screamed. “What kind of society raises monsters like this, raises animals like this?” Still, he added, “Don’t be mistaken. We won’t be broken.”
Other speakers mentioned Hallel’s passion for dancing, with her dance teacher saying, “You are definitely dancing now in heaven. Go in peace, princess in white.”
Earlier, her parents told mourners at their home that Hallel had been sleeping late after a dance performance the night before, and that her father was on his way to the house to wake her for work when he heard of the attack. She had been working in his winery during the summer vacation, which had just started.
“At first I thought everything was well, but I knew deep in my heart that she was not alive,” said Amichai Ariel, 59.
Directing remarks at the government, Uri Ariel, the agriculture minister (Jewish Home) who is a relative of the bereaved family, called for establishing Israeli sovereignty over the entire Land of Israel, including the West Bank. “We swore today to build more. We always have to build, but today even more so,” he said. “The time has come for full sovereignty, with a stress on Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria.
“Whoever says in 2016 that Jews poison wells — he is responsible for this murder,” said Ariel, referring to a false accusation made by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in a speech to the European Parliament earlier this month. “It’s not that he’s not a partner for peace,” said Uriel of Abbas. “He shouldn’t be in our midst.”
Rina Ariel, the bereaved mother, said of Hallel: “For 13½ years, I had the light of my life… Your only sin was that you were almost perfect. Father, it’s too crowded up there. There are too many.”
Ariel’s mother called upon the Jewish foremothers — Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah — to hold her daughter close in heaven. She cried out at the “Arab Muslim mother” whose son stabbed her daughter to death. “I taught my daughter to love,” she wailed.
At one point, she broke down, hugged her daughter’s body, which was covered in a shroud, and recited the Shema prayer.
After the speeches at the school, the funeral procession continued by car, bus and on foot to the Jewish cemetery in Hebron.
The procession was guarded by Israel Defense Forces soldiers, private security guards and police. In the cemetery, the crowd of hundreds sang traditional songs and cried, as Ariel was laid to rest.