Thousands of mourners attended a funeral service for slain kidnapping victim Eliahu Asheri Thursday afternoon at Jerusalem's Sanhedria Cemetery.
Friends, family and fellow military academy students wept as Asheri's body was carried into a hall as eulogies began.
Both chief rabbis, Yona Metzger and Shlomo Amar, attended the funeral, as well as Infrastructure and Trade Minister Eli Yishai, and Australian ambassador to Israel Tim George. Asheri's father had immigrated to Israel from Melbourne.
Former NRP MK Haim Druckman, Asheri's grandfather, described Asheri's killers as barbarians. "They're not even animals," he said. "I don't want to offend animals."
"You paved the way of faith for us," his mother Miriam Asheri, said. "I remember how you sat around the Shabbat table and showed us how much you'd learned, you taught us not to judge... you told us so sensitively, so simply," she said.
Yitro Asheri said his son was always a peacemaker. "The last day I saw you, you were in our house in Itamar, and you made peace between your siblings," he said.
Asheri was a student at a pre-military academy at the settlement of Neveh Tzuf in the West Bank. He disappeared Sunday night as he hitchhiked to meet fellow students for a hike.
OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh said Thursday that Osheri was murdered by his kidnappers approximately one hour after he was abducted. "There was no attempt by the kidnappers to negotiate his release while he was alive," Naveh said.
Last Sunday, Naveh said, Asheri was visiting friends in Gush Etzion when he hitched a ride back to the Ofra Junction. There, the IDF officer said, Asheri was picked up by a Palestinian Resistance Committees (PRC) cell and smuggled into Ramallah, taken to a garbage dump and shot in the head at point blank range.
The kidnappers, Naveh said during a press conference at Central Command headquarters in Jerusalem, received tens of thousands of dollars and directions from PRC officials in the Gaza Strip. Asheri's kidnapping, he added, was planned by the cell carefully in advance and was implemented flawlessly. The cell, he said, had from the beginning of the abduction planned to murder Asheri and to negotiate the return of his body.
According to Naveh, the threat of abduction was real and kidnappings were currently the preferred type of attack by Palestinian terror groups. "It involves minimum expense and they know that if they kidnap a soldier, they are striking a strategic blow to Israel," he explained.
Naveh said that the IDF planned to begin funding extra bus lines along West Bank roads to facilitate the needs of settlers and soldiers and hopefully prevent them from hitching rides and risking their lives. The IDF, he added, was also looking into the possibility of passing a new military order that would allow authorities to file a complaint against citizens who hitch rides in the West Bank.
At Asheri's funeral, Druckman eulogized his 18-year-old grandson. "We know the sun sets in the evening, but if it suddenly sets in the middle of the day... Eliahu, you were as bright as the sun," he said, in between sobs.
Eliahu Asheri was the eldest of five children. His father, a convert to Judaism originally named Cliff Harris, immigrated and moved to Itamar in 1991.
Australian Consul Tony Pobjie, who also attended the funeral, said the Australian Embassy had offered assistance to the family through their time of grief.
Speaking at the funeral, Samaria Regional District head Bentzi Leiberman accused the government of negligence in providing security for its citizens. "The government has forgotten who the real enemy is," Leiberman said. "The prime minister is not succeeding in looking after lives, not in Sderot, and not in Itamar," he said.
"Woe upon us that a grandfather has to eulogize his grandson," said NRP MK Yitzhak Levy. "Eliahu, pray before God that no harm will come to Itamar, not from our enemies, and not from our brothers," he said, speaking after Druckman.
The sound of wailing mourners echoed through the hall during the eulogies. Metzger escorted the weeping father from the hall. Hugging and crying, Asheri's family followed them outside. Following the service, a funeral convoy carried mourners to the Mount of Olives, where Asheri was buried.
"This terrible tragedy is not only upon the parents, the family or even the community of Itamar," said Amar. "The heart of all Israel is broken over this cruel and terrible deed," he said.