Hundreds of mourners attended the funeral on Monday night of Batsheva Nigri, a 42-year-old mother of three who was killed in a terror shooting attack close to the southern West Bank city of Hebron Monday morning.
Family and friends of Nigri, a resident of the West Bank settlement of Beit Hagai who worked as a kindergarten teacher in nearby Efrat, paid their last respects to her at the Gush Etzion Regional Cemetery in Kfar Etzion on Monday night.
In her eulogy, Nigri’s sister, Eliya, said she was “the most special sister I could have.”
“You were full of light, with a pure heart. You were a true inspiration. I miss you and am crushed,” she said. “All your life, you overcame every difficulty and proved how much strength you have.”
“Everywhere you went, you lit up the place. You were contagious with your energy and joy for life,” she went on, promising to “stay strong and take care of mom, Eli [Nigri’s spouse] and your sweet children.”
“This is an unimaginable loss,” said Nigri’s mother-in-law. “You were always facing forward, with a smile and with endless hope.”
Nigri was killed when a vehicle she was in with her 12-year-old daughter — who was unharmed in the attack — and a driver came under fire from a passing car while driving on the Route 60 highway, close to the Beit Hagai junction, south of Hebron.
The Nigris had been hitching a ride from Aryeh Leib Gottlieb, a man in his 40s, who had also been heading to the Jerusalem area from the southern West Bank
Gottlieb was seriously wounded in the attack and was rushed to Beersheba’s Soroka Hospital where he was stabilized after undergoing surgery. Gottlieb is a father of six who had been en route to buy books for his children.
Nigri was initially listed in critical condition, but was declared dead at the scene shortly afterward.
Her 12-year-old daughter was in the car, in the backseat, during the attack but was unharmed, authorities said.
In her eulogy to her mother, Nigri’s daughter, Shirel, recounted the attack: “Today we went out shopping in Jerusalem, and suddenly we heard gunshots. The windows were broken, and you were no longer awake.”
“Mom, I want to give you a hug one last time. I miss you. You were the happiest person I know. I ask that you watch over us and don’t leave me. My children will know what an amazing mother I had,” she said in comments cited by news site Walla.
Nigri’s brother hailed her as an “amazing wife, a wonderful mother and an aunt like no other.”
“You were also amazing to the children in all the kindergartens where you worked — hundreds of children learned what Judaism is from you. I refuse to accept what the mind already knows. To me you were always the eldest sister, I chose you to be my sister every day,” he said, as cited by Ynet.
The vehicle the Nigris and Gottlieb were in was hit by at least 22 rounds, with another three bullet impacts found nearby, according to the military’s initial investigation.
IDF soldiers at a nearby post heard gunfire but did not immediately identify that an attack had occurred. By the time troops reached the scene, the terrorists had fled, according to the preliminary probe.
The IDF said it had launched a manhunt for the terrorists and closed off a number of roads in the area. The military encircled Hebron and was questioning Palestinians entering and leaving the city.
The IDF had been given a description of the suspected vehicle used by the gunmen to carry out the terror attack. The vehicle had no license plates and was believed to have fled toward the Hebron area.
Security forces later found a burnt-out vehicle near the Palestinian town of Halhul, which apparently matched the description of the terrorists’ car.
Nigri’s neighbor Hannah Zarichon told Channel 12 after the killing, “Batsheva was a fun, happy woman” who was very active in the Efrat community, including as its volunteer youth coordinator, organizing many events for local residents. “She had an infectious laugh… and always volunteered with a huge smile.”
Nigri and her husband also served as foster parents to two young children, Zarichon said.
רכב החשוד כרכב המחבלים שרצחו את בת שבע נגרי נמצא שרוף באזור חלחול pic.twitter.com/fdXnk5xDVN
— Carmel Dangor כרמל דנגור (@carmeldangor) August 21, 2023
The Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror groups praised the attack as a response to Israel’s expanding settlement enterprise in the West Bank, but stopped short of claiming responsibility.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant held an assessment with top military and defense officials later Monday, his office said.
The attack came two days after a Palestinian terrorist killed two Israeli men, a father and son, while they were doing errands in the northern West Bank town of Huwara. Shay Silas Nigreker, 60, and his 28-year-old son Aviad Nir were shot to death at a carwash on Saturday afternoon.
Violence has surged across the West Bank over the past year and a half, with a rise in Palestinian shooting attacks against Israeli civilians and troops, near-nightly arrest raids by the military, and an uptick in revenge attacks by extremist Jewish settlers against Palestinians.
The IDF said Monday it was bolstering the West Bank with an additional infantry battalion and two companies, following the two recent deadly terror attacks.
The military said the additional forces would assist in the manhunts for the terrorists who carried out the attack near Hebron on Monday and the shooting in Huwara on Saturday.
The forces would also be tasked with carrying out guard duty in the area, as the military feared that the ongoing escalation in violence, mostly in the northern West Bank, could spread to its south.
Typically, the IDF’s West Bank division has 13 battalions. Over the past 18 months, that number has fluctuated amid an increase in Palestinian terror attacks, reaching a high of 26 battalions in October 2022. Following Monday’s deployment, there will be 23 battalions in the West Bank.
Palestinian attacks in Israel and the West Bank have left 29 people dead and several others seriously wounded since the beginning of the year, including in Monday’s shooting.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.