ISRAEL is in mourning following the fatal stabbing of father of four Itamar Ben Gal near the settlement of Ariel in the West Bank.
As men lifted a small bundle of cloth containing Rabbi Ben Gal’s body and placed it on a tallit, women wailed. Nobody was ready for this funeral.
On Monday, Ben Gal, 29, set out to a celebration for a new nephew. He waited at a bus stop by a busy highway when suddenly a terrorist dashed at him from the other side of the road, and stabbed him.
Ben Gal ran away, across the road, but the attack would turn out to be fatal. “I arrived three minutes later, and saw a man lying there on the floor and saw he wasn’t breathing,” Mark Berg told The AJN.
Berg, a rescuer with the Hatzolah organisation, said that they tried to save Ben Gal, but soon realised the odds were stacked against him.
“When we cut the clothes we saw there was also a large cut in the breast, and I saw that he didn’t really have hope. It was very sad but we saw there was no hope.”
As Ben Gal’s body lay on the tallit the next day, his wife Miriam stood looking at it, sobbing. Minutes later, her husband and father of her four children was buried, and mourners were trying to find words of comfort.
Ben Gal’s rabbi, Eliezer Melamed, described him as a “natural leader” who excited students and had the talent to become a yeshivah head.
“Now all the dreams are lost,” Melamed told the large crowd of mourners, which included many students from the Bnei Akiva yeshivah in Givat Shmuel, where he taught.
The yeshivah closed down for the day, and in a statement it eulogised him as “loving and beloved, a man of grace who caused people’s faces to light up”.
Hamas praised the attack, as one of the “successful operations” of the so-called resistance, and some Palestinians enthused about the death on social media.
Ben Gal’s friend and neighbour in the Har Bracha settlement Yonatan Behar told The AJN that his whole community is “devastated”.
Behar, who works at the Har Bracha yeshivah where Ben Gal taught some lessons, said, “He was constantly smiling, a very happy man who was always learning Torah”.
“He worried and cared for all his students who came to him with any problems they had. He was also a “tremendous father and husband”.
David Friedman, the American ambassador to Israel who has a longstanding link to Har Bracha, said he was “praying” for the family.
“Twenty years ago I gave an ambulance to Har Bracha hoping it would be used to deliver healthy babies,” Friedman revealed in a tweet.
“Instead, a man from Har Bracha was just murdered by a terrorist, leaving behind a wife and four children.”