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.”
“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.
“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.
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.”