Widow vows to bury slain rabbi Raziel Shevach at illegal outpost

Local settler council head urges government to recognize Havat Gilad, saying it would be the ‘real answer to terror’

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent based in New York

Rabbi Raziel Shevach with his daughter, in an undated photo (Courtesy of the family)
Rabbi Raziel Shevach with his daughter, in an undated photo (Courtesy of the family)

Rabbi Raziel Shevach, who was shot dead in a West Bank terror attack Tuesday night, will be buried in the illegal West Bank outpost where he lived, his widow, Yael, said.

Shevach’s funeral was set for 1 p.m. on Wednesday at the outpost.

“We decided together as a family to bury Raziel, my beloved husband, may God avenge his blood, in the community of Havat Gilad where he was active,” Yael Shevach said in a statement.

“Raziel asked that if something were ever to happen to him that he would be buried at Havat Gilad. That was his will,” she added. “We honor his request and we will bury him in a community he loved and on whose behalf he acted. I call upon all the people of Israel to come and accompany Raziel in Havat Gilad in Samaria. This is my request.”

She was backed by Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan, who also called on the prime minister and defense minister to allow the burial of the 35-year-old father of six at the outpost and to give legal standing to the settler community, near Nablus, which authorities have dismantled several times only to see settlers rebuild it.

“On such a terrible day for the family, for Samaria and for the people of Israel, the correct answer to these despicable terrorists, who wanted to murder a Jew and actually expel us from our hold on the Land of Israel, is to announce today the… full recognition of Havat Gilad,” Dagan said.

Shevach was shot dead while driving down a highway near his home.

Immediately following the attack, Israeli troops launched a manhunt in the northern West Bank, setting up roadblocks around the Nablus area as they looked for the perpetrators. Overnight, Israeli special forces joined the search, entering nearby Palestinian villages in order to locate the attackers.

On Wednesday morning, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot toured the area of the attack and the army announced it was expanding its search and bringing in reinforcements to assist in the effort.

“Entrances and exits to and from the villages surrounding Nablus will be possible only after security checks,” the army said.

Dagan said that legalizing Havat Gilad now was “the real answer to terrorism.”

“I call on the prime minister and the defense minister to allow this dear family to fulfill the final will of the murdered man and to bury Raziel in the community where he lived and which he loved so dearly,” he said.

Dagan called for the removal of all political restrictions on West Bank construction and a green light for the construction of hundreds of housing units in Havat Gilad to “diminish the motivation of terrorism.”

Havat Gilad was established in 2002 in memory of Gilad Zar, security coordinator of the Shomron Regional Council, who was shot dead in an attack a year earlier.

A spokeswoman for the Samaria Regional Council said that Shevach would be buried at the outpost, with or without permission.

Although “there is, of course, no approval to do so,” she said, the authorities had not tried to prevent the funeral.

Rabbi Raziel Shevach with his family, in an undated photo (Courtesy of the family)

Shevach was remembered by friends and acquaintances as a goodhearted family man who was a central figure in Havat Gilad.

“He was a very special person,” said friend Yehuda Hass, who volunteered with Shevach as a medic in Magen David Adom. “Just recently he received a citation for his work in the organization. He was the unofficial rabbi of Havat Gilad.”

The 35-year-old father of six was also a rabbi in a yeshiva and a mohel.

“He was a very well known mohel here…in the area, entirely as a volunteer,” Hass told the Ynet news site. “He was a great man with a great heart.”

Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau also released a statement in which he said he was heartbroken by Shevach’s death. He described him as a “unique, affable and rare character” who “devoted his life to saving lives, teaching Torah and safeguarding Judaism in the Land of Israel.”

Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

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