Thousands of mourners gathered in Jerusalem on Friday for the funerals of Eitam and Naama Henkin, who were shot to death in the West Bank on Thursday night.
Speaking at the funeral, President Reuven Rivlin asserted Israel’s sovereignty over the West Bank and said settlement construction would continue. He stated that, in the same way that Israel never built because of terror, it wouldn’t stop building because of it.
Eitam Henkin’s mother, meanwhile, said the grandparents would raise the slain couple’s children, who witnessed the attack, as their own.
The Israeli couple, in their early 30s, and their four children were ambushed while driving between the settlements of Itamar and Elon Moreh around 9 p.m. Thursday, when two Palestinians opened fire with a handgun and a rifle. Both parents were struck multiple times in their upper bodies, paramedics said. They were pronounced dead at the scene. The children, aged 9, 7, 4 and four months, were unharmed.
Matan, the eldest child, recited the kaddish (Mourner’s Prayer) for his parents at the funeral.
In his eulogy, Rivlin said Naama Henkin had sent him a letter after the murder of Danny Gonen, 25, in a June terror attack in the West Bank, and signed it “A citizen who cares.”
“I replied to you. I told you that the land is ours in its entirety, and under our sovereignty it is our responsibility to see to its security and the security of our citizens,” he continued. I promised that I would continue to embrace the terror victims and visit every home in which the lights have been extinguished forever. I didn’t think, it didn’t occur to me, that your light would go out, and I, we, would embrace your children.”
The president said settlement construction in the West Bank would continue. “We didn’t build because of terror, and we won’t stop building because of it,” he remarked.
Eitam Henkin was the son of Rabbi Yehuda and Chana Henkin, who moved to Israel from the United States in the 1970s. His mother, Chana, runs the Nishmat institute, a Jewish learning institution that was one of the first to teach women Talmud and Jewish law. Rabbi Henkin, a noted Torah scholar and author of several volumes of responsa, also serves as the school’s Jewish law authority.
“Now we, the grandparents, will raise the children,” Chana Henkin said at the funeral. “Eitam and Naama, we’ll raise them as you would have.”
Eitam’s mother added that her son was “innocent and modest, happy, and idealistic” and praised his writings on matters of Jewish law.
“Since you found your magnificent Naama, I don’t recall you complaining about anything. It was amazing to see the powerful love between the two of you. The total dedication to your children,” she said. “Naama, you entered our family 12 years ago, and from the first moment, we loved you.”
Also Friday, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon toured the site of the attack with Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot and Shin Bet chief Yoram Cohen and vowed the terrorists would be swiftly caught.
The security forces will “spare no efforts to arrest the killers and their sponsors,” Ya’alon said.
The terrorists fled the scene after the terror attack, prompting an IDF manhunt in the area. A unit within Fatah’s armed wing assumed responsibility for the attack.
Hundreds of Israelis marched near the scene of the shooting, and urged the building of a settlement outpost in the Henkins’ memory, Israel Radio reported.
On Thursday night, a neighbor from the settlement of Neriya, the Henkins’ hometown, described them as a “dream couple.”
“They were a dream couple, who in life and in death were inseparable. Everyone knew that they went everywhere together. They invested a lot in their relationship, in their family, their children,” a neighbor who was identified by her first name, Shlomit, told Ynet. “They were something special, good people, very humble.”