In Abu Ghosh, bereaved father says he’s ‘proud’ of son slain protecting Har Adar
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'He jumped on the terrorist and got a bullet in the chest'

In Abu Ghosh, bereaved father says he’s ‘proud’ of son slain protecting Har Adar

Yousef Ottman remembered as friendly and 'understanding'; was saving money for university and dreamed of becoming a dentist

Dov Lieber is The Times of Israel's Arab affairs correspondent.

Friends and family carry the body of Youssef Ottman during his funeral in Abu Ghosh, September 26, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Friends and family carry the body of Youssef Ottman during his funeral in Abu Ghosh, September 26, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The mourning tent outside the home of Yousef Ottman, 25, one of three security officers killed in a terror attack on Tuesday, was frequented by hundreds of friends and family, including residents of the Arab Israeli town of Abu Ghosh, former Border Police colleagues, as well as members of the Jewish West Bank settlement he died protecting, Har Adar.

The diverse tapestry of mourners who came to his funeral seemed to confirm what those who knew him told The Times of Israel: Ottman “got along with everyone,” was friendly and intelligent, and a man who had finished his three years of service in an elite unit of the Border Police with distinction.

The burial ceremony was conducted by the town’s Mayor Issa Jaber in both Hebrew and Arabic, and was attended by police officials, Knesset members, and a government minister.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat later visited the mourning tent, which will remain open for the next 30 days for anyone who wants to visit.

Friends and family mourn during the funeral of Youssef Ottman in Abu Ghosh, September 26, 2017. Ottman was killed on Monday morning, after a Palestinian terrorist opened fire on a group of security forces at the entrance to the Israeli settlement of Har Adar, outside Jerusalem. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Suheir Ottman, the father of the security guard killed by a Palestinian gunman early Tuesday in nearby Har Adar, told The Times of Israel his son “got along with everyone in the village. Everyone loved him.”

“I’m proud of my son,” said the grim-faced father, who appeared shell-shocked as he welcomed guests to the tent outside his house.

“He stopped the terrorist from getting into the village at the time children were just going to school. He jumped on the terrorist and got a bullet in the chest that took his life,” he said.

The father added that he “shares in the sorrow of the other families who lost their children this day.”

Zuheir Ottman, father of Yousef Ottman, who was killed in a terrorist attack on September 26, 2017. (Dov Lieber / Times of Israel)

Noah Ottman, 21, a cousin of Yousef’s who said they had grown up together, described the former police officer as “intelligent” and “understanding.”

Yousef, his cousin said, was working as a security guard to save up money to go to university and had talked about becoming a dentist.

“I never could have imagined that something like this could have happened to him. He was a great police officer and combat-ready,” he said.

From left to right: Solomon Gavriyah, Youssef Ottman and Or Arish, three Israelis killed in a terror attack outside the settlement of Har Adar on September 26, 2017 (Courtesy)

Noah said he didn’t harbor hate for anyone after the attack, but hoped people would learn a lesson from the tragedy.

“Such an incident really stirs emotions — emotions no one wants to have,” he said.

For the Ottman family, one of Abu Ghosh’s four big clans, this was the second time terror had claimed the life of one of its members.

Osama Ottman, a middle-aged lawyer and cousin of the victim, said that when he heard about the death of Yousef, it “immediately brought me back to 20 years ago,” when his brother, Muhi A-din Ottman, was killed by a Hamas suicide bomber in the Mahane Yehudah market in Jerusalem, on July 30, 1997.

Osama said he had spoken with Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who visited Abu Ghosh earlier in the day, and asked him why the government isn’t doing more to solve the conflict with the Palestinians.

Friends and family of Youssef Ottman during his funeral in Abu Ghosh, September 26, 2017. Ottman was killed on Monday morning, after a Palestinian terrorist opened fire on a group of security forces at the entrance to the Israeli settlement of Har Adar, outside Jerusalem. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

“Twenty years ago, [Benjamin] Netanyahu was prime minister when my brother was killed, and now he is prime minister today. The government must take serious steps to end the conflict,” Osama said he told Erdan.

According to Osama, Erdan answered back, “We are making our best efforts. But today, we must be united.”

Interior Security Minister Gilad Erdan visits the family of Youssef Ottman before his funeral in Abu Ghosh, September 26, 2017. Ottman was killed on Monday morningby a Palestinian terrorist at the entrance to the Israeli settlement of Har Adar, outside Jerusalem. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev, who spoke at the burial ceremony, also 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.”

Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev arrives for the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, June 18, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“We have no patience for people who take part in cowardly terror attacks,” she added, noting that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that the house of the attacker would be demolished.

Regev noted Ottman was a combat soldier, and said that had “he had a chance to fight fairly, he would have won.” But the terrorist took advantage of the fact that Ottman knew him — Yousef “knew all the workers,” his father said — and was able to get close before drawing his weapon and killing him.

“They must choose: terror or making a livelihood,” Regev said of the Palestinians.

The other two security officers killed in Tuesday’s attack — policeman Solomon Gavriyah, 20, and civilian security guard Or Arish, 25, a resident of Har Adar — were also buried on Tuesday afternoon.

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