Israelis Killed in West Bank Shooting Attack Laid to Rest

Rabbi Ahiad Ettinger, 47, is survived by his wife and 12 children

Rabbi Ahiad Ettinger and Staff Sgt. Gal Keidan, fatally wounded and killed, respectively, in an attack on March 17, 2019.

An Israeli man who was gravely wounded in a shooting attack in the West Bank on Sunday succumbed to his wounds on Monday, raising the death toll to two. Rabbi Ahiad Ettinger, a 47-year-old resident of the West Bank settlement of Eli, is survived by his wife and 12 children.

The other Israeli slain in the attack, Staff Sgt. Gal Keidan, was laid to rest at 11:00 A.M. at the military cemetery in Be'er Sheva. A second soldier who suffered wounds to his stomach remains in serious condition.

>> Analysis: Israel facing the perfect storm after West Bank attack

Education Minister Naftali Bennett delivered a euology during Ettinger's funeral, telling the rabbi's children that they could be proud of their father, who was head of a hesder yeshiva in a south Tel Aviv neighborhood that has become home for many ayslum seekers.

"He went to the toughest place in south Tel Aviv, to grow life and Torah there," Bennett said, citing his close cooparation with anti-immigrant activist Sheffi Paz. "He brought hope and changed reality in south Tel Aviv. Who will do that now?"

Haaretz Weekly, Episode 19Haaretz

"Even in his death, when the murdered stood in front of him ... he shot the murdered and paid with his life. We might have lost his life in the present, but we'll keep his heritage forever."

Announcing the rabbi’s death, the Ettinger family said he “died in the name of God by the hands of a contempitble murderer during a terror attack in which he showed valor, inner strength, and great courage as he shot the abhorrent terrorist.”

Relatives and friends mourn during the funeral of Israeli rabbi Ahiad Ettinger, in the Israeli settlement of Eli, West Bank, March 18, 2019.
Ronen Zvulun/Reuters

His daughter, Efrat, praised her father for "always doing so much for others. You fought to do good. You've put so much effort into the yeshiva, you've done everything for it." She added: "Now everyone will have to be a bit better to make up for what's missing."

"We know the terrorist's identity," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said as he visited the scene of the attack. "The IDF, Shin Bet and security forces are in close pursuit after him. We also know where he lives, [and] we located his family. I gave instructions this morning to begin demolishing his home and preparations have already begun.

"These terrorists will not uproot us from here – the exact opposite will occur," the prime minister continued. "Tomorrow, as the mayor of Ariel told me, we are beginning construction of some 840 housing units in a new neighborhood, a neighborhood that I approved  two years ago."

Tenders for the planned construction were issued months ago, and the final tender was approved recently. The plan was finalized long before Sunday's attack. 

"Rabbi Ettinger's wondrous life work will continue among us after his death and the strength he conveyed to his pupils and the communities he led will continue to strengthen us at this time of great sorrow and mourning as well," President Reuven Rivlin said after Ettinger's death was announced.

Omar Amin Abu Laila.

Kahol Lavan co-chairman Yair Lapid called the rabbi a "hero who gave his life trying to neutralize the contempible terrorist" and "a great man, always working for the greater good in his life and sadly for us, in his death as well."

The Israeli army and Shin Bet security service arrested relatives of the suspected Palestinian assailant early on Monday morning. Security forces continued searching for the suspect, who defense officials have identified as Omar Amin Abu Lila, a 19-year old resident of the West Bank village of Az-Zawiya with no history of security-related offenses. 

Dozens of young Palestinians clashed with security forces in the wake of the arrests, with local reports saying two were wounded by rubber bullets. Residents of Az-Zawiya told Haaretz that as far as they knew, the suspect was not politically active and did not belong to a terror organization.

Following the attack, the military blocked the entrances to the Palestinian villages of Salfit, Haris, Deir Istiya, as well as the entrance to the village of Kifl Haris. Security forces searched the adjacent villages and the military instructed nearby settlements to shut their gates until the attacker is found.

According to the military, the assailant approached the Ariel commercial center at around 10:00 A.M on Sunday, stabbed a man, grabbed his weapon, and began firing at nearby vehicles. He then entered a vehicle whose driver had fled, fired at a hitchhiking station, and escaped.