Thousands of people attended a late night funeral Wednesday for an Israeli reserve soldier killed earlier in the day by errant IDF gunfire during a stabbing attack in the West Bank.
Eliav Gelman, 30, an Air Force captain in the Israeli military’s reserve corps, was shot by troops trying to stop the Palestinian who was attacking him with a knife at the Gush Etzion Junction south of Jerusalem.
He was laid to rest at the Kfar Etzion cemetery in the West Bank.
A Palestinian man stabbed Gelman while he was waiting for a bus on his way home from base. Soldiers stationed nearby opened fire on the man but one or more bullets accidentally struck Gelman, critically injuring him. He was taken to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, where doctors pronounced him dead some two hours after the attack.
Gelman, a father of boys Yoav and Yair, ages 2 and 5, lived with his wife Rina, who is pregnant, in the West Bank settlement of Karmei Tzur in the Etzion settlement bloc south of Jerusalem. He was originally from Kiryat Arba, a settlement on the outskirts of Hebron and had studied at the Mekor Haim Yeshiva, also in the Etzion bloc.
Speaking at the funeral, Gelman’s brother Eyal described him as deeply religious, studying the Bible and Talmud every day.
“He was loved, loving, connected to the Jewish People, the land of Israel, and the Torah of Israel. He was dedicated to the Torah. Every day when he woke up, regardless of what happened at night, wherever and whenever, even in the army, he would study daily Talmud portion and the Torah,” Eyal said.
Despite the circumstances of the death, Gelman’s family said they were not angry at the army for the mistaken shooting, the Ynet news website reported.
Gelman’s brother-in-law was Benaya Sarel, an IDF soldier killed during the 2014 Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip, who was also from Kiryat Arba.
Davidi Perl, head of the Gush Etzion Council, said Gelman didn’t die in vain.
“Eliav was another sacrifice in the war for Gush Etzion, a war that began decades ago, and, to our sorrow, is not over yet,” Perl said. “We are together with the family and the residents of Karmei Tzur in their great pain.”
The Etzion Junction has seen a spate of attacks, many targeting soldiers stationed at the intersection. In November, American teen Ezra Schwartz was killed in a terror attack at the site. It has been bolstered by a massive army presence in recent months.
With his death, Gelman became the 29th Israeli killed in Palestinian terror attacks since violence escalated in October. Three non-Israelis have been killed as well. Nearly 170 Palestinians have been killed over the same period, some two-thirds of them while carrying out attacks and the rest during clashes with troops, according to the Israeli military.