Calls for Revenge as Hundreds Attend Funeral of Slain Israeli Rabbi in West Bank: 'He Was Murdered for Being a Jew'

Education Minister Naftali Bennett says only revenge for rabbis murder on Tuesday is construction of more settlements

Mourners attending the funeral of Rabbi Raziel Shevach, 35, in the West Bank outpost of Havat Gilad, near Nablus, January 10, 2018.
Olivier Fitoussi

Hundreds of mourners attended the funeral Wednesday of Rabbi Raziel Shevach, who was killed in a drive-by shooting attack near the illegal West Bank outpost of Havat Gilad the previous evening.

To really understand Israel and the Middle East - subscribe to Haaretz

A father of six, Shevach, 35, was shot to death by bullets fired from a car traveling along the West Bank's main highway.

A eulogy delivered by Education Minister Naftali Bennett was repeatedly interrupted by shouts of Revenge! from the mourners, to which the minister replied: The only revenge is construction – meaning more settlements in the occupied territories.

Rabbi Raziel Shevach, the victim of a drive-by shooting attack in the West Bank on January 9, 2018.
Courtesy of Rabbi Raziel Shevach's family

>> After terror attack, Israeli ministers call to legalize West Bank outpost that victim called home <<

Various speakers at the funeral called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to recognize Havat Gilad and approve the construction of hundreds of homes there. That will stop the motivation of terrorism, said Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan. Havat Gilad presently houses several dozen families.

Dagan also said Shevach was "killed for being a Jew in the land of Israel."

Shevachs widow, Yael, had called on Israeli citizens to attend her husbands funeral and said Raziel had asked to be buried at the outpost in the event of his death. We decided together with the family to bury my husband in the settlement, she said. We are honoring his request and will bury him in the settlement he loved so much.

Havat Gilad

Shevach was buried at the newly created cemetery adjacent to the outpost, without a legal permit.

Earlier on Wednesday, – led by Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman – called for Havat Gilad's legalization, while Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot visited the outpost. Lieberman said he hoped the Lord would avenge the rabbis spilled blood.

Havat Gilad was founded illegally in 2002, following the murder of the settler Gilad Zar – security coordinator of Shomron Regional Council who was shot to death the previous year. Not one of the buildings in the settlement has a construction permit, and from time to time, its residents find themselves evicted.

Lieberman said he had instructed the heads of the Defense Ministry to help the family and residents of Havat Gilad. In parallel, I ordered them to examine how to legalize Havat Gilad and make it a regular settlement in the West Bank, he added.

Israel's answer to Shevach's murder will be to regulate Havat Gilad, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked stated on Wednesday, joining the chorus of ministers calling for the settlement's legitimization.

Achieving that would first require the cabinet to formally resolve on establishing a "new settlement," though Havat Gilad is about 16 years old.

A master plan would then need approving by the relevant authorities, and retroactive building permits would be issued, thereby legalizing the illegal homes. In other words, legitimizing Havat Gilad would be a protracted bureaucratic process requiring work at different levels of government.

Issawi Frej, an Israeli Arab lawmaker from the left-wing Meretz party, blasted the government for looking into legalizing the outpost, saying that "every death is painful, Jewish or Arab, but encouraging outlaws will only lead to more bloodshed."