Frustration boils into calls for revenge at funeral of slain rabbi
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'We must restore our national honor'

Frustration boils into calls for revenge at funeral of slain rabbi

Mourners for Raziel Shevach at Havat Gilad outpost heckle Naftali Bennett in middle of his eulogy, urge aggressive action against Palestinians

Jacob Magid is the settlements correspondent for The Times of Israel.

Friends and family attend the funeral of Rabbi Raziel Shevach, 35, in the West Bank outpost of Havat Gilad on January 10, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Friends and family attend the funeral of Rabbi Raziel Shevach, 35, in the West Bank outpost of Havat Gilad on January 10, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

HAVAT GILAD, West Bank — Irate and mournful, hundreds of mourners attended the Wednesday funeral of a rabbi who was slain by terrorists in a drive-by shooting attack in the northern West Bank, eulogizing the father of six and calling for revenge.

A large group of mourners shouted down Education Minister Naftali Bennett as he concluded his eulogy for Raziel Shevach at the Havat Gilad outpost, where the victim lived.

As dozens of hecklers chanted “revenge,” Bennett attempted to calm the crowd by saying that “the only revenge is to keep building.”

Not appeased, the chants only grew louder, with one yelling that the minister, the head of the Jewish Home party, was “all talk.”

“Your name should be blotted out,” one mourner yelled out, using a Hebrew phrase usually reserved for especially villainous figures.

The funeral took place at the illegal outpost south of Nablus, a tiny grouping of caravans housing some 40 families, in a hastily prepared cemetery, with Shevach becoming the first person to be buried there.

“Raziel asked that if something were ever to happen to him that he would be buried at Havat Gilad,” his wife Yael said in a statement earlier Wednesday.

Shevach, 35, was killed Tuesday night in a drive-by shooting attack as he drove on a main highway south of Nablus. The army launched a large-scale search for his killer, but no arrests have been announced.

Like nearly every one of the eulogizers, Bennett called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to increase construction in the West Bank and legalize the outpost in response to Shevach’s murder.

“You, the residents of Havat Gilad are the real heroes,” the minister said earlier in his eulogy. “Our enemies’ terror stems from the hope that if they kill one more Jew or throw one more rock, that we will break in the end,” he asserted. “But we extinguish that hope by building families and establishing new communities on our land.”

Rabbi Elyakim Levanon, a settler leader, told mourners it was time for Netanyahu to revise his settlement polices so that “not every meter of building will be a debate.”

“Mr. Prime Minister, come here and look at this family in the eyes and you’ll see what you have to do,” Levanon told the hundreds in attendance.

Samaria Regional Council chairman Yossi Dagan was much more forceful. “Rabbi Raziel did not die from cancer, he died because he was a Jew living in Israel,” he said, holding back tears.

Rabbi Raziel Shevach with his family, in an undated photo (Courtesy of the family)

“I call, from here, on the members of the government. We have the best army in the world. We demand that the army bring the murderers their day of vengeance. We must restore our national honor,” Dagan added emphatically.

Shevach’s brother Bar’el spoke at length of his brother’s “holiness,” praising him at length for his devotion to Judaism as well as his decision to become a volunteer medic. “You were so dedicated to making this world a better place,” he said.

Between sobs at the end of his eulogy, Bar’el called on God “to kick the Gentiles out of our land. Don’t put up checkpoints; kick them out.”

Education Minister Naftali Bennett attends the funeral of Rabbi Raziel Shevach, 35, in the West Bank outpost of Havat Gilad on January 10, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Havat Gilad was established in 2002 in memory of Gilad Zar, security coordinator of the Shomron Regional Council, who was shot dead in an attack a year earlier.

Construction workers labored from Tuesday evening up to minutes before the funeral to clear an area near the outpost’s entrance in time for the burial.

Earlier Wednesday, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said that he had ordered his office to examine the possibility of legalizing the outpost.

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