ELI, West Bank — Over 1,000 Israelis gathered solemnly in the central West Bank settlement of Eli Monday for the funeral of Achiad Ettinger, hours after he succumbed to wounds he sustained a day earlier in a terror attack at the nearby Ariel Junction.
Eulogies were delivered by, among others, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, the rabbi of the Eli settlement, and several of the 47-year-old’s 12 children. In their speeches, they highlighted Ettinger’s last decision to confront his attacker after being shot rather than fleeing the scene.
“Your father was a hero in life and a hero in death,” said Bennett in a message directed at Ettinger’s children, who range in age from 1 to 21. “In death, he didn’t do what most people would have done in that situation. He didn’t run away, but strove to confront the terrorist.”
“In your heroism you became an emissary for the entire nation of Israel. Everyone will learn from your actions, both civilians and soldiers,” said Avraham Schiller, the rabbi of the Eli settlement, where the victim resided.
Relatives told reporters Sunday that Ettinger turned his car around after being shot and managed to fire four bullets in the direction of the Palestinian terrorist, causing him to flee the scene rather than target others. The IDF has been unable to corroborate the account, which was not picked up by security cameras at the scene.
Eulogizers also spoke about Ettinger’s community work in south Tel Aviv, where he briefly moved with his family several years ago and started a hesder yeshiva, which combines Torah study with military service for young men.
“He went to the most difficult of places, to south Tel Aviv, in order to spread Torah there,” said Bennett, referring to areas of the city that have seen an influx of African migrants and refugees over the past decade.
While several of the half-dozen eulogies carried a theme often stressed at funerals for West Bank terror victims — the importance of strengthening Israeli roots beyond the Green Line as a response to Palestinian terror — the tone on Monday in Eli was not overtly political. There were no interruptions from youths calling for “revenge,” and policy demands from the government were minimal.
The funeral’s most emotional moment came when an officiant held up his phone to play messages recorded in advance by Ettinger’s younger children, who shared memories of their father.
“Dad, every two weeks you would take us on trips in the nature. We’d learn about the plants and the flowers,” said one of his children. “Every day when you returned from work, you made sure to take aside one of us for a conversation or a Torah lesson.”
“You were on your way home and you went back in order to save lives,” said another child. “We will miss you a lot.”
Held up by her newly widowed mother, one of Ettinger’s older daughters, Efrat, said that she had learned at her father’s bedside that “you had quite a few students, who also called you ‘Dad’ and are not ready for you to stop raising them.”
“How could it be that someone who brought so much life into the world is no longer here to live with us,” she added, sobbing.
“The evil terrorist thought he was ending a life, but he had no idea how much life and power you left on this earth that we and the entire nation of Israel will use to grow and carry on.”
According to Israeli authorities, after fatally stabbing IDF soldier Gal Keidan, the suspect, who has been named as Omar Abu Laila, 18, grabbed his gun and opened fire at passing vehicles, hitting Ettinger, then stole a vehicle. The terrorist then drove to the nearby Gitai junction, where he opened fire again, wounding IDF soldier Alexander Dvorsky.
Ettinger succumbed to his injuries Monday morning, while Dvorsky remained in serious condition.