Thousands attend funerals for Jerusalem terror victims
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Thousands attend funerals for Jerusalem terror victims

President urges Israelis to continue visiting Old City, where fatal attack took place; Nehemia Lavi’s father praises son’s bravery

Friends and family carry the body of Aharon Banita during his funeral at Har HaMenuhot Cemetery in Jerusalem on October 4, 2015. Banita was stabbed to death by a Palestinian youth in a terror attack in the Old City, October 3. (Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Friends and family carry the body of Aharon Banita during his funeral at Har HaMenuhot Cemetery in Jerusalem on October 4, 2015. Banita was stabbed to death by a Palestinian youth in a terror attack in the Old City, October 3. (Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Thousands of Israelis attended the funerals Sunday of Rabbi Nehemia Lavi and IDF soldier Aharon Banita, who were stabbed to death in Jerusalem’s Old City on Saturday night.

The funeral for Lavi, a father of seven who was killed after he rushed to the scene of the attack, began at noon in Jerusalem’s Givat Shaul cemetery. The first victim of the attack, Banita, was laid to rest in the same cemetery at 1:30 p.m.

In his eulogy for Lavi, President Reuven Rivlin urged Israelis to continue to visit the Old City and Western Wall, where Banita was headed at the time of the stabbing, despite the violent attack.

“I grew up in Jerusalem, I was born here, and I was here when we were barred from going to the Western Wall,” said Rivlin. “I was a kid at the time when blowing a shofar at the Western Wall was grounds for arrest by the British. Those days will not return.”

THe wife of Nehamia Lavi is seen at his funeral at Har HaMenuhot Cemetery in Jerusalem on October 4, 2015. Lavi was killed as he tried to help Jews stabbed in a terror attack by a Palestinian in the Old City. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
THe wife of Nehamia Lavi is seen at his funeral at Har HaMenuhot Cemetery in Jerusalem on October 4, 2015. Lavi was killed as he tried to help Jews stabbed in a terror attack by a Palestinian in the Old City. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

“We cannot stop going to the Western Wall, the remnant of our temple,” he continued. “I urge the pilgrims — don’t forsake the Old City, we must march in the footsteps of Nehemia and Aharon and prove that they [the terrorists] will not harm our way of life.”

Yehezkel Lavi, the victim’s father, praised his son’s bravery.

The victims of the fatal stabbing attack in Jerusalem on Saturday October 3, 2015 were named as Nehemia Lavi, 41 (left) from Jerusalem, and Aharon Banita, 22 (right) from Beitar Illit. (Courtesy)
The victims of the fatal stabbing attack in Jerusalem on Saturday October 3, 2015, were named as Nehemia Lavi, 41 (left) from Jerusalem, and Aharon Banita, 22 (right) from Beitar Illit. (Courtesy)

“Without any hesitation or delay, you ran to save an innocent family that was on its way to the Western Wall,” he said.

Addressing his grandchildren, he said: “Your father was a great, true righteous man. Nehemia, you were dear to us all.”

Lavi was the first to reach the scene of Saturday’s terror attack, in which IDF soldier Aharon Banita was killed, and his wife, Adele, and toddler were injured. The 19-year-old assailant fatally stabbed Lavi, who died a short while later. Despite her serious injuries, Adele Banita managed to run and alert police nearby.

Thousands attend funeral for Rabbi Nehemia Lavi in Jerusalem on October 4, 2015 (screen capture: Walla news)
Thousands attend funeral for Rabbi Nehemia Lavi in Jerusalem on October 4, 2015 (screen capture: Walla news)

Some 200 people attended Banita’s funeral directly after Lavi’s.

Adele Banita’s mother, Miriam Gal, said in a eulogy that passers-bye yelled that they hoped Adele would die too as she ran, injured, for help.

“Aharon promised her that he would make her the happiest Sukkot ever. What promises he promised her,” she said. “Whoever speaks about peace is stupid. There’s no other word. The people of Israel need to wake up.”

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