The man killed in a terror attack in Jerusalem’s Old City on Sunday was named as Eli Kay, 26, from the central Israeli city of Modiin.
Kay, a recent immigrant from South Africa who was employed at the Western Wall as a tour guide, was shot dead by a Hamas gunman in Jerusalem’s Old City.
Before working at the Western Wall, he had volunteered in Kibbutz Nirim in southern Israel for a year, after completing his military service.
Kay served in the Israel Defense Forces as a lone soldier (one of the soldiers from foreign countries who move to Israel without family) in the Paratroopers Brigade, until August 2019.
“He was the first to come to Israel from our family,” Kay’s brother Kasriel told reporters on Sunday evening.
“He was the first to join the army as a combat soldier, and then the rest of the brothers. He gave everything for this country,” he said.
Kasriel Kay added that the family plans to build something in his memory, “so we will truly remember him eternally.”
Kay’s girlfriend, Jen Schiff, said that “Eli loved this country. He fought for it. He is the strongest person I have ever known, emotionally and physically. He always treated everyone with love and respect.”
ארוסתו של אלי שנרצח בפיגוע בירושלים: "אני המומה. חשוב לי לשתף עד כמה אלי אהב את ישראל ואיך הוא הגיע לכאן לבד כדי להילחם בשבילה. היו לו כמה פציעות בשירות, והוא המשיך בכל זאת להתאמן. הוא האיש הכי חזק שאני מכירה"@sharonidan https://t.co/z3py0zBIA0 pic.twitter.com/yuSatHARCX
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) November 21, 2021
“He raised the spirits of everyone. He did his holy work with dedication and loyalty,” the Western Wall Heritage Foundation said in a statement on Sunday.
Kay had been walking to work when the terrorist, an East Jerusalem resident whom Hamas identified as one of its members, opened fire.
He was taken to Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus, where he was pronounced dead.
Kay was to be buried Monday at 13:30 at Jerusalem’s Har HaMenuchot Cemetery.
Kay was the first Israeli civilian killed by Palestinian violence since the 11-day conflict in the Gaza Strip this past May.
Four other people were wounded in Sunday’s shooting before officers shot and killed the gunman.
Rabbi Zeev Katzenelnbogen, a 46-year-old father of eight, was wounded in the deadly shooting attack as he was returning home from morning prayers at the Western Wall.
The others wounded in the attack were Rabbi Aaron Yehuda, who was hospitalized in serious condition at Shaare Zedek Medical Center, and a pair of police officers who were lightly hurt and received treatment at Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem. They were both later released.
At the weekly cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett noted that the shooting came several days after a stabbing attack in the Old City, in which a pair of border guards were hurt.
“I have directed the security forces to prepare accordingly and be alert, including over concern for copycat attacks. We need to be on heightened alert and prevent future attacks,” he said.
The premier said he was briefed by Public Security Minister Omar Barlev on the shooting and expressed condolences to Kay’s family.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz praised the police officers’ response, saying they “acted with speed and determination and thwarted a much more severe attack.”
“We’ll continue to fight terror wherever it raises its head,” Gantz wrote on Twitter.
Barlev earlier toured the scene of the attack with police leaders.
“[The gunman] moved through the alleys and fired quite a bit. Luckily, the alley was mostly empty because otherwise — heaven forbid — there would have been more casualties,” he said.
He also said that the attack appeared to have been planned in advance.
Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was the “price” for Israel’s actions in Jerusalem.