Aryeh always looked out for his twin, Emmanuel, his “little brother.” But on Saturday, Aryeh was thousands of kilometers away when his twin was cut down in a hail of gunfire at the Jewish Museum in Brussels.
“You were born only a few minutes after me, but I always looked at you like my little brother. We were always together. I always protected you, even when you didn’t need it, and this time, I wasn’t even close,” Aryeh said at the funeral at the Kiryat Shaul cemetery in north Tel Aviv on Tuesday afternoon. “I still can’t believe we won’t see you again.”
Mira and Emmanuel Riva were murdered along with two museum volunteers in the shooting. The Rivas were in Brussels to celebrate their 18th wedding anniversary, Aryeh said, and the trip was just the latest of many the couple took together abroad and within Israel.
For the past two years, Emmanuel worked for the Public Security Ministry, the government and the security establishment that he and his wife held.
His boss, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, addressed the crowd at the funeral on Tuesday, praising the Rivas as a couple who worked for many years in the service of the state and raised two teenage girls.
“Emmanuel, your expertise in economics led you to success in various positions – in the Finance Ministry, the Foreign Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office. Over the past two years you worked for the Public Security Ministry, and in your field of expertise you performed with professionalism,” the minister said in his eulogy.
Aharonovitch was the only national politician present, and stood at the front alongside Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai.
Like Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Aharonovitch described the shooting attack as a hate crime caused by “incitement against Jews and the State of Israel.”
The Belgian ambassador, John Cornet d’Elzius, expressing his condolences on behalf of the people of Belgium, said: “Our hearts are broken with grief with you, we mourn with you.”
He vowed that the Belgian government would do everything it could to find the people responsible for the attack.
As the short ceremony drew to a close, well after the press photographers left the small memorial hall, the couple’s daughter Ayelet took to the podium and spoke to her parents.
“I still have so many things to show you – how I finish school, how I enlist in the army and finish my service, getting a job and starting a family, growing from a girl to a woman,” she said.
Belgian TV on Tuesday reported that authorities had arrested one suspect they believe may have played a role in the shooting.
Over the past two days, there has been speculation in Israel about whether the incident was a random anti-Semitic attack or a targeted operation meant to kill the Rivas because of their jobs working for the state. Belgian authorities have said that no avenues of investigation have been ruled out.
In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said: “The US strongly condemns the deadly attack at Jewish Museum in Brussels last Friday. We express deepest condolences to the family of the victims. We condemn anti-Semitism in all its forms.
There is never any justification for prejudice against the Jewish people or Israel, and the United States is prepared to provide whatever assistance is necessary to identify and bring to justice the perpetrators of this attack.”
Michael Wilner contributed to this report from Washington.