Hundreds of people took part in funeral events for Yehuda Dimentman Friday as security forces intensified the search for the terrorists who opened fire on his vehicle and killed him the previous night.
The funeral began at the West Bank outpost of Homesh, where Dimentman had studied and near which he was shot dead. Eulogies were made there, and a procession then visited the place of the attack before traveling to Jerusalem’s Givat Shaul cemetery, where Dimentman was interred.
Military and police forces heavily secured the event.
Speaking at the funeral, the head of his yeshiva, Rabbi Elishama Cohen, called Dimentman “a soldier of the Torah,” while adding that “Homesh will say loudly and clearly that this place is fully ours.”
Homesh was meant to have been abandoned in 2005 as part of then-prime minister Ariel Sharon’s so-called disengagement, but has since been illegally retaken by a group of settlers.
The head of the far-right Religious Zionism party, Bezalel Smotrich, said Homesh should be strengthened and further built as a response to the attack.
He said he believed God “sent Yehuda to us to instruct us to return to Homesh, to build the Yeshiva, to strengthen Torah at Homesh.”
Dimentman’s brother Shlomi also called on the government to “renew Homesh.” He said that “the Arabs here are celebrating and happy to see how we are humiliated, mainly by the High Court of Justice and other haters of Israel aiding them.
“We will be here and remain here. May God avenge his blood.”
Some calls for revenge were also heard by funeral-goers as Dimentman was eulogized.
Likud MK Nir Barkat said “Jews are allowed to live wherever they want, and we will protect that right.”
— מרדכי עמאר (@mordechay_amar) December 17, 2021
Deputy Defense Minister Alon Schuster rejected the notion of rebuilding Homesh in response to the attack, saying the government “will not make far-reaching diplomatic moves,” adding that building in the illegal settlement would be “a direct hit on agreements Israel is signed on to.”
Israeli forces conducted a number of arrests and set up roadblocks throughout the northern West Bank overnight Thursday as they continued searching for the killers.
Three additional infantry battalions of Israel Defense Forces troops, along with special forces and intelligence collection units, were deployed to the West Bank following the attack, as the military, the Shin Bet security service and Israel Police scoured the Nablus area for the assailants.
“At this time, security forces — the IDF, Shin Bet, police and additional forces — are pursuing the murderers. We’re going to put our hands on the terrorists and capture them,” said Gen. Yehuda Fuchs, head of the IDF’s Central Command.
“We’re responsible for defense here, and we’ll do everything in our ability to provide protection for the residents and capture the murderers and terrorists that carried out this attack,” Fuchs said.
According to Palestinian media, at least three Palestinians were arrested in overnight raids in the village of Burqa, just north of where the attack took place, outside the Homesh outpost.
Investigators suspect the attack was carried out by two assailants who fired on the vehicle from close range, according to Army Radio.
Brig. Gen. Avi Bluth, commander of the IDF division responsible for the area, said at least 10 bullets were fired into the car. He said the car was hit by an ambush from the side of the road, not from a passing vehicle, and that troops had found the spot where the terrorists sat before the attack.
“We are grabbing any threads there are to pull,” said Bluth, commander of the IDF’s Judea and Samaria Division, named for the biblical term for the West Bank.
Details about the investigation into the attack were barred from publication under a court-issued gag order.
Bluth said reinforcements were being brought into the area in the form of three infantry battalions, special forces and intelligence collection units. Additional reserve duty soldiers were brought in to assist.
Dimentman, 25, was a father of a nine-month-old son and was from the West Bank settlement of Shavei Shomron.
He was a student at the yeshiva, or religious school, in Homesh, near where the attack took place.
Dimentman and two others were fired on while driving a car as they left Homesh around 7:30 p.m. The two other passengers sustained light injuries in the attack from broken glass.
The Palestinian terror groups Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine praised the attack, but did not immediately take responsibility for it.
The past few weeks have seen a rise in Palestinian terror attacks, with four taking place in Jerusalem alone, including a deadly shooting committed by a member of Hamas.
The Kan public broadcaster reported that, in response to the attack, settlers were preparing to set up new buildings in Homesh.
US State Department spokesperson Ned Price condemned the attack in a statement.
“We strongly condemn the terrorist attack today in the West Bank that killed an Israeli citizen and wounded two others. Our thoughts are with the victims of this attack and their families,” Price said.