Elan Ganeles, a 26-year-old Israeli-American killed in a terror attack near the Dead Sea on Monday, was laid to rest in a Ra’anana cemetery on Wednesday.
Ganeles’s family, who live in West Hartford, Connecticut, flew to Israel for the funeral, with thousands in attendance.
Eulogizing her son, Ganeles’s mother Caroline said, “He was the brightest boy in the world… he had never-ending inquisitiveness.”
“While in Israel, he fell in love with the land and the people. This is where he wanted to be,” his father Andrew said. “He was going to make aliyah.”
Ganeles was raised in West Hartford, where his family belonged to the Young Israel of West Hartford synagogue, and he attended Modern Orthodox schools.
He was killed on Monday when gunmen opened fire at his car on the Route 90 highway, close to Nevo military base. The terrorists then continued driving and opened fire at another car near Beit Ha’arava Junction, then shot at a third car nearby, the IDF said.
As Ganeles’s parents spoke, the IDF released a statement saying that it had arrested two suspects in the attack following an operation near the West Bank city of Jericho, close to where their son was shot as he drove.
Ganeles’s parents spoke of their son’s passion for nature, travel and culture, describing his decision, inspired by a trip to China, to “master the art of ramen noodle soup making.”
“He was a very passionate individual. And when he was passionate about something, he pursued it fully and deeply,” his mother said, adding: “He was such a gift in our lives, with so many attributes. He had a whole life of so much potential, he wanted so much to see the world, to soak up every aspect…. Our loss is a loss for the world.”
“We last spent time with Elan a few weeks ago when he came home for Shabbat before his trip [to Israel],” his father recalled. “It was both a highlight for him and for us.”
“It was often late on Friday night when I would be cleaning up from Shabbat dinner that we would spend hours discussing the finer points of current events, politics and religion. He loved to think and analyze and most of all to debate.”
“We feel as if a part of our being has been taken from us. He was so loved, and he will be missed so much,” his parents concluded.
Ganeles, who was visiting Israel to attend a friend’s wedding, served in the IDF as a computer programmer before returning to the United States to earn his university degree.
In Ra’anana, Ganeles’s brothers, Simon and Gabriel, addressed the hundreds in attendance.
“Elan was the most genuine, curious and knowledgeable person I knew,” Gabriel Ganeles said. “He loved his friends more than anything. His friends were his family. He was in Israel to see more than 25 friends from all different parts of his life. He was constantly looking to make people happy and have fun.”
“Elan was my brother, my best friend, and a huge inspiration to me. I will miss him,” said Simon Ganeles.
Amichai Eliyahu of Otzma Yehudit attended the funeral as a representative of the government and said that he was “embarrassed and hurt” by what had happened to Ganeles.
“We built this country and it continues to grow stronger every day, but as much as we are growing, we also see more and more hate. As a minister in the government of Israel, I say we failed.”
Ganeles was killed a day after two Israeli brothers were shot to death in a similar attack in the northern West Bank, which was followed by a rampage by settlers in the Palestinian village of Huwara during which a Palestinian man was killed.
In recent months, Palestinian gunmen have repeatedly targeted military posts and troops operating along the West Bank security barrier, Israeli settlements and civilians on the roads.
Emanuel Fabian contributed to this report.