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 Shevach will be the first person laid to rest in the Havat Gilad outpost. There's no cemetery here so construction workers are hustling up to the last minute before the funeral to clear the area in time for burial. This whole area was bushes and weeds 24 hrs ago pic.twitter.com/byjChTIWi7
— Jacob Magid (@JacobMagid) January 10, 2018
“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.
“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.”
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.
The Times of Israel covers one of the most complicated, and contentious, parts of the world. Determined to keep readers fully informed and enable them to form and flesh out their own opinions, The Times of Israel has gradually established itself as the leading source of independent and fair-minded journalism on Israel, the region and the Jewish world.
We've achieved this by investing ever-greater resources in our journalism while keeping all of the content on our site free.
Unlike many other news sites, we have not put up a paywall. But we would like to invite readers who can afford to do so, and for whom The Times of Israel has become important, to help support our journalism by joining The Times of Israel Community. Join now and for as little as $6 a month you can both help ensure our ongoing investment in quality journalism, and enjoy special status and benefits as a Times of Israel Community member.