Rabbi slain in terror attack buried in settlement where he lived
Knesset speaker praises ‘dedicated teacher’ Itamar Ben-Gal who was stabbed to death; agriculture minister calls for annexing West Bank in response
HAR BRACHA, West Bank — Hundreds of people participated in the funeral Tuesday for a rabbi killed in a West Bank terror attack a day earlier, escorting the victim as he was laid to rest in the Har Bracha settlement where he lived.
Itamar Ben-Gal, 29, was stabbed to death while waiting at a hitchhiking post near the settlement of Ariel on Monday, as he headed to a circumcision ceremony for his nephew. He was survived by his wife, Miriam, and four children.
His suspected killer, Abed al-Karim Assi, 19, managed to evade capture following the attack, even after an IDF officer hit him with his car while in pursuit.
At the gravesite, Miriam Ben-Gal said, “Itamar, my dear, we will continue settling the land and raising our family.”
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel, and Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben Dahan were also at the ceremony.
“The country has lost a righteous person,” Edelstein said in a eulogy for Ben-Gal. “What a terrible loss. With Miriam, he built a family life… he was a dedicated teacher who treated each of his students as a son.”
“The terrorist saw the smile that he always had on his face and the light that was always in his eyes,” he continued. “He tried to wipe off the smile and put out the light. This was the same desire of the killer of Raziel Shevach.”
Shevach, a resident of the outpost of Havat Gilad, was killed in a West Bank shooting attack in January. The prime suspect in that attack, Ahmad Nassar Jarrar, was shot dead by security forces early Tuesday morning during an arrest operation in the West Bank city of Jenin, following a three-week manhunt.
Ben-Gal, originally from Rehovot, lived in Har Bracha, a community of some 2,500 people on the outskirts of Nablus in the West Bank. He was a middle school teacher at a yeshiva in the Tel Aviv suburb of Givat Shmuel.
His father, Daniel, said, “The Israeli education system has lost a great and devoted educator and we are left orphaned by him.
“You were so dedicated to your students’ education. We will continue to take care of your sweet children.”
Speaking at the grave, Ben-Gal’s widow Miriam vowed: “We will continue settling this land and raising our family.”
Assi, the man suspected of killing Ben-Gal, holds Israeli citizenship and lives in Jaffa, defense officials said hours after the stabbing. His blue Israeli ID card allowed him passage to both sides of the Green Line. His father lives in Nablus and his mother in Haifa.
Ariel, the agriculture minister, of the settlement-supporting Jewish Home party, urged annexing the West Bank and ending the family reunification program that enabled Assi to receive an Israeli ID card.
“The time has come for the recognition of the Land of Israel,” Ariel said. “We will not allow the unification of families. We, in the government, are responsible for security and also for retribution, for the building of the land of Lsrael. We don’t need to wait for someone to be murdered to build Havat Gilad or Har Bracha… From the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea there will be one country; no other nation will be sovereign in this area. The time has come for sovereignty.”
Samaria Regional Council chairman Yossi Dagan, who heads the municipal body overseeing northern West Bank settlements, demanded that the government take stronger action against terrorism, and blamed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for the attacks.
“We expect answers today — not just the residents of Samaria, but the entire nation of Israel demands clear answers. It is unacceptable that in less than a month in Samaria, two terror attacks took the lives of two Jews. It is unacceptable that the checkpoints have not returned. It is unacceptable that in broad daylight, in the middle of a main junction, in the middle of Israel, a murderous terrorist can exit a taxi and murder a Jew without fear.”
“The answer is not a fake security cooperation (with the Palestinian Authority) but a determined war not only on the terrorists, but on their accomplices, those who send them, and those who incite them in the Palestinian Authority,” Dagan continued. “I say to them and to their leader, the terrorist Mahmoud Abbas, cursed be his name: You will not break us.”