Thousands of mourners gathered on Tuesday afternoon to pay their final respects to three Israelis killed by a Palestinian terrorist in the Jerusalem-area settlement of Har Adar earlier in the day.
Border policeman Solomon Gavriyah, 20, civilian security guards Youssef Ottman, 25, from Abu Ghosh and Or Arish, 25, a resident of Har Adar, were laid to rest in separate funerals.
Gavriyah was buried in his central Israel hometown of Beer Yaakov, in an emotional ceremony that saw several family members collapse from grief.
In Jerusalem, Arish was buried in the city’s Givat Shaul Cemetery, with the funeral closed to the press.
In the nearby Arab Israeli town of Abu Ghosh, hundreds attended the funeral for Ottman. The burial was held in both Hebrew and Arabic, and was attended by police officials, Knesset members, and town mayor Issa Jaber.
Gavriyah, who was posthumously promoted to staff-sergeant, had joined the Border Police for his mandatory national service and had recently been serving as a policeman in the Jerusalem seam area along the boundary with the West Bank.
The 20-year-old was mourned by his girlfriend as “the best person I knew.”
“You never complained. You were a warrior. A hero, my hero,” she said.
“Last night you fell asleep on the phone to me because you had guard duty in the morning. I couldn’t believe what I saw on the news this morning. No one ever taught me how to deal with this. I don’t know how to accept this. I can’t,” she said.
At the funeral, Gavriyah’s sister began a eulogy, but was forced to stop, overwhelmed by emotion. She was escorted away by family members.
“You were the pride of our family. You were an inspiration to all of us. I don’t know how we can go on without you,” she said through tears, before breaking down.
Likud MK Avraham Neguise said in his eulogy, which was given partly in Hebrew and partly in Amharic, that the people of Israel and the Israeli-Ethiopian community “lost one of our great heroes.”
Israel Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich told mourners that “our officers are on the front lines and over and over again put themselves in the line of danger to protect the people of Israel.
“The actions of the brave Border Police officers, Solomon at the front, prevented an even worse tragedy” during the shooting attack at Har Adar this morning, Alsheich said.
“In recent years, our best officers have been those killed in the line of duty, and you, Solomon, as I have heard from your commanders and comrades, were one of them,” he said.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan echoed praise of Gavriyah, telling mourners that the sacrifice he made will not be forgotten.
“He put himself in front of the terrorist. He stopped him, even as his own life was taken,” Erdan said. “You came to this land as an immigrant. You became one of its defenders.”
Erdan says that “the acts of heroism” displayed by Gavriyah, as well as Ottman and Arish “allow those in Har Adar, and all of us in Israel to live in peace and security.”
“Islamic extremists are trying to drive us out of our home through rockets on our borders and through stabbing and shooting attacks in our cities and towns,” the minister said in pointed remarks. “Efforts to reach compromise are important but whenever we have Palestinians who want to kill innocent Israelis and the Palestinian Authority supports them, we will stand strong and we won’t give in. The terrorists will not get anything.”
“Solomon, I promise that we will not give up and give in, for your sake. We will continue to build our national home, we will continue to build our country, because it is our home,” Erdan concluded before a a 21-gun salute closed the ceremony, echoing off the high-rise buildings surrounding the small cemetery.
In Abu Ghosh, Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev praised Ottman for protecting lives in the face of “cowardly” terrorism.
“Two men went to work this morning. One for life, one to save lives, and one of death, who went to take life away,” she said, referring to Ottman’s killer, Nimer Muhammad Jamal, as someone whose name “should be blotted out.”
“We have no patience for people who take part in cowardly terror attacks,” she added, noting that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared the house of the attacker would be demolished.
“They must choose: Terror or making a livelihood,” Regev said of the Palestinians.
Opposition leader MK Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union), also at the funeral, called Abu Ghosh “a model of peace,” noting Jews, Christians and Muslims all live peacefully in the small town and its environs.
Friends and family remembered Ottman as friendly and compassionate, beloved by all.
“Everyone loved him, he was very special,” Ottman’s father told Channel 2 news after the ceremony. “He was always looking to help other people whenever he could.”
Ottman is survived by his parents and siblings, including a sister who was married last week.
The early morning attack also killed 25-year-old security guard and Har Adar native Or Arish.
According to Channel 2, Arish was not scheduled to work on Tuesday morning, but requested the shift because he was saving up money to attend university.
Just after 7 a.m., 37-year-old Jamal took a pistol out of his shirt and shot at a group of security officers who were opening the back gates of Har Adar to Palestinian laborers.
Ottman, Gavriyah and Arish were killed in the attack. Another man, the settlement’s security coordinator, suffered serious gunshot wounds to his stomach and chest. His injuries after surgery were downgraded to light-to-moderate.
The Shin Bet domestic security service said Jamal did not have a known history of involvement in terrorist activities.