Dafna Meir was buried in Jerusalem on Monday, a day after she was stabbed to death at the entrance to her home in the West Bank settlement of Otniel.
Hundreds joined the funeral procession for the mother of six, two of them foster children, which set out from Otniel toward the Har Hamenuhot cemetery in Jerusalem.
Meir, 39, a nurse by profession, wrestled with the attacker with three of her children in the house. She was stabbed and left for dead as the attacker fled.
Media reports said her daughter Renana, 17, witnessed the attack, which took place at around 5 p.m., and described the terrorist to authorities.
Delivering a eulogy at the cemetery Monday, Renana said: “You left us with an enormous vacuum. We won’t drink tea at midnight any more… You won’t come with me to my wedding, to the army, to the delivery room.”
Renana, who was present when the attacker struck, added tearfully: “I’m sorry I didn’t manage to help you during the hardest moments.”
Meir’s husband, Natan, who recited the Mourner’s Prayer with son Akiva, 15, said he had met his future wife during military service in southern Lebanon. “It took a moment to fall in love, and as I said then, ‘Welcome’. Now, I’m saying ‘have a good journey,'” he said.
Dafna, who was herself adopted at age 13, had four children of her own with Natan, and they were foster parents to two more.
As family and friends gathered for the start of the funeral procession, the assistant director of the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba, Prof. Yohanan Feizer, said: “Dafna dealt in saving lives and her life was plucked from her in front of her children.”
She had always performed above and beyond what was expected of her, with “endless generosity,” he added, according to Haaretz.
Efrat Dahan, who met regularly with Meir, said she and others had lost “a sister, not only in her profession, but in the heart and soul.”
“Beloved Dafna, we met four ago, when I came to the community,” she added. “I sat for a while at the playground and we started to talk about the most personal of things. I was so pleased that we became good friends, right away and for always. One could speak to you about anything, you knew so much.”
Among those present at Har Hamenuhot were Education Minister Naftali Bennett, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben Dahan — all from the pro-settler Jewish Home party — as well as Minister of Culture and Sport Miri Regev (Likud) and opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union).
Bennett eulogized Meir as a “special soul,” saying she “brought life to every place.”
“Even in your last moments,” he said, “you brought light and love. You fought a terrorist and defended your children.” He added, “To a people like that that murders a mother in front of her children, there will not be a state. There is no state for hatred.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday morning that he had promised the head of the Otniel municipality, Yochai Damari, that the settlement would be strengthened. He pledged that Israel would find anyone who tried to harm Israelis and that he would pay “the full price” for his actions.
As the buses in the funeral procession approached Jerusalem, another woman, Michal Froman was stabbed by a teenage Palestinian attacker in the West Bank settlement of Tekoa. She was moderately wounded.
Otniel, which lies 56 kilometers (35 miles) south of Jerusalem, has an early-warning system and the terrorist’s exit was filmed on a security camera. However, after combing villages in the south Hebron Hills area for hours, security forces have yet to close in on the killer.
Assuming that he had been a worker in the settlement, investigators were checking building contractors and a transport contractor in the area, Israel Radio reported.
Palestinian workers were prohibited from entering Hebron-area settlements on Monday, with the aim of keeping tensions down.
In November of last year, Rabbi Isaac Litman, 40, and his son Netanel, 18, were killed in a shooting attack near Otniel.