Some 1,500 people on Thursday attended the funeral of Yehuda Guetta, a 19-year-old student who was shot in the head in a drive-by shooting attack at Tapuah junction in the West Bank earlier this week, and who died of his injuries on Wednesday night.
Guetta, a Jerusalem resident, was among three students shot at a bus stop on Sunday in the northern West Bank terror attack.
All three were studying in a yeshiva in the nearby settlement of Itamar. Guetta is survived by his parents, four brothers and two sisters.
The procession began at a synagogue in Jerusalem’s Kiryat Moshe neighborhood, before the burial at the capital’s Har Hamenuhot cemetery.
The event was attended by far-right Religious Zionism MKs Itamar Ben-Gvir and Orit Strock, Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion, Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar and Jerusalem Affairs Minister Rafi Peretz.
Also in attendance was Jonathan Pollard, who was allowed recently to move to Israel after spending 30 years in US prison for spying for the Jewish state.
“I’m a simple Jew, and I never expected to come home after 30 years and be faced with this kind of tragedy,” Pollard said. “I hoped and prayed that my own sacrifice would prevent this kind of tragedy. The evil that took Yehuda has a power that is incredible. It doesn’t cease, it doesn’t stop, it shows no pity, it shows no remorse. But we do. And that’s why we come here, to say ‘shalom’ to Yehuda.
“We must make a resolution now that this stops. This can’t go on any longer. I don’t want to see this kind of tragedy happen again,” Pollard added.
He called on Israel to do “whatever is necessary to prevent this.”
Guetta’s mother, Milka, said that after news broke of the attack she called and texted her son, until a hospital worker answered.
“They said he was alive but that I should come with lots of deep breaths,” she said. “I didn’t know what to expect, I didn’t know his condition. I was very confused.
“When we saw him, we got four days of grace in which we could be at his side and bid farewell to him.”
Guetta’s father, Elisha, said: “Dear Yehuda, you won. You reached the finish line, full of determination and intransigence. As you were a Jew walking through Samaria to study Torah, you were murdered by vile people.”
“It was important to him to be accepted to an elite IDF unit. He said: ‘I’ll go as far as possible,'” said Guetta’s aunt Leah Cohen.
“He was very sensitive, gave attention to everybody and played with everybody.
“This isn’t something that can be stomached, but at least we had time to say goodbye.”
Samaria Regional Council leader Yossi Dagan used his eulogy to lambast the government’s lack of response to the attack and called for a new settlement to be established near Tapuah junction in Guetta’s memory.
“Yehuda didn’t die of cancer or a traffic accident, he was murdered,” he said. “He was murdered because he was a Jew in the land of Israel. The government must treat this incident as what it is: an organized and premeditated event by the Palestinian Authority.”
The attack is not believed to be tied to the PA.
“We demand that the government come to its senses and move toward a decisive attack on Israel’s enemies. We demand that the government reinstate the security checkpoints and go back to controlling the traffic routes in Judea and Samaria. Our lives are more important than any politics. We won’t agree for the IDF to again ‘contain’ the incident.”
Less than an hour after Guetta succumbed to his wounds, the Shin Bet security agency announced that it had apprehended the suspect in the attack.
The agency identified the arrested suspect as 44-year-old Muntasir Shalabi from the central West Bank town of Turmus Ayya. He is not believed to have ties to any terror groups.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz each offered their condolences in separate statements shortly after Beilinson Medical Center announced Guetta’s death. “These are difficult moments for the Guetta family and the entire nation of Israel is with them in their grief,” the premier said.
The two other injured students were Benaya Peretz, 19, from Beit She’an, who was shot in the back and remains in very serious condition, and Amichai Hala from Safed, also 19, who has been released from the hospital to recover from his wounds at home.
The attack came amid heightened tensions in the West Bank after the Palestinian Authority announced it was indefinitely delaying elections planned for later this month, blaming the decision on ostensible Israeli refusal to allow PA voting in East Jerusalem.
The IDF also bolstered its forces in the West Bank for the month of Ramadan, a period that regularly sees an uptick in violence.
Sunday’s shooting was followed by several apparent retaliatory attacks by Israeli settlers, including the storming of Jaloud village in the predawn hours of Monday morning, where Israelis from the nearby Shiloh settlement threw rocks and stun grenades and started fires.