Funeral of slain Border Police officer Jidan Assad.
(photo credit: SETH J. FRANTZMAN)
“For 12 years I served in Jerusalem with Jidan Assad: He was a son of a proud family that has served this country, he was a combat soldier who defended Israel,” Border Police head Asst.-Ch. Amos Yaakov intoned. “He was an excellent officer and it was an honor to work with him.”
More than a thousand people attended the funeral in Beit Jann on Thursday of Supt. Jidan Assad, the 38-year-old officer who was killed in Wednesday’s driving terrorist attack in the capital that wounded 13 other people.
Assad was eulogized by Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, Israel Police Insp.-Gen. Yohanan Danino, and others who knew and worked with him.
Hundreds of Druse religious figures, dressed in their traditional dark robes and wearing white cylindrical hats, attended the ceremony, as well as representatives of local religious communities, including a Greek Orthodox priest and a Catholic priest.
After a military-style guard of honor saluted Assad, his casket was borne out on a police vehicle to the village cemetery.
The large sprawling village of Beit Jann, perched on the slopes of Mount Meron in the Galilee, has the unwelcome distinction of having the highest rate of casualties per capita in Israel, having sacrificed more than 50 soldiers since the founding of the state.
Funerals are attended by almost everyone in the village, which Beit Jann resident Hail Wahbi described as a tradition built on the close-knit community.
“We live close together and we care for each other,” Wahbi said.
Youth perched on rooftops as the multi-colored Druse flags draped across the streets fluttered in the breeze.
The funeral was standing-room only as the crowds spilled out onto the streets around the community center’s courtyard.
Women with loose, white head scarves draped over their hair stood in a long line stretching down the street. Many soldiers, some from the village, and others, including many Jews, came to pay their respects.
After a brief prayer from the Druse religious leaders, a half-dozen speeches commemorated Assad’s life.
Jerusalem commander Yaakov recalled that Assad was an energetic and devoted colleague. “You were the first to help others and the last to leave, we will carry forward the legacy you left us. You leave behind a child, but your family will always have the Border Police as a family. I will not forget you,” he said.
Assad joined 481 other Border policemen who have fallen in the line of duty, “protecting our home and the nation of Israel,” he said.
Danino noted the tremendous service Druse have performed for the State of Israel.
“The terrorist groups will continue to try to hurt us, but Jerusalem is our city,” he said, adding that Border Police officers perform a difficult task, “standing at the checkpoints and manning the fences.”
In his speech, Aharonovitch stressed that Israel had been fighting terrorism for 66 years and that the country would continue to seek peace and quiet.
“I’ve come to this village many times and we greatly value the Druse community’s service,” he said.
Assad came from one of the leading families in the village. After completing his high-school education there, he served as a lieutenant in the army, and then joined the Border Police.
When the service was over and the honor guard had laid wreaths next to the casket, the villagers returned to their homes. The women, who remained behind the men during the service, followed the vehicle with the casket as it made its way toward the cemetery.
Sawah Hamud, who served in the army for 12 years before taking work as a head of a local department of the Interior Ministry, described the Assads as one of the most respected families in the community.
Two members of the family have been members of the Knesset, and he said many of the men have been officers in the army and the security services.
“Jidan was a quiet man, he helped everyone in the village and volunteered often for local causes. It is very hard on everyone here,” he said.
Assad leaves behind a pregnant widow and a two-year-old son.