In his final moments of consciousness, Rabbi Ahiad Ettinger shot at the terrorist – and on Monday, in a tearful eulogy, his daughter Efrat lauded his effort to save lives.
“My father, you are a hero, a true hero. Until death, you were there for everyone; you were strong in mind and body and you used this for everyone,” she said.
Hundreds of people gathered in the settlement of Eli, as his family and friends eulogized and praised him for his life’s work, and for having fought back against the terrorist who killed IDF Staff Sgt. Gal Keidan, 19, and ultimately the rabbi himself.
Ettinger, the father of 12 children ranging in age from 1 to 22, died Monday after being shot in the head in a terrorist attack the day before. He had stopped to shoot at the terrorist as he was carrying out his attack, but the terrorist returned fire and mortally wounded him.
Ettinger, 47, succumbed to his wounds after doctors at Beilinson Hospital fought to save his life for almost 24 hours. He was the dean of the Oz V’Emunah hesder yeshiva – which combines Torah study with military service for young men – in south Tel Aviv.
Eulogies were given in Eli where he lived. From there, the funeral procession went by Ariel Junction where the attack was carried out and where Ettinger was slain, and then to the Petah Tikva cemetery where the rabbi was buried.
Ettinger’s daughter Efrat struggled to speak through her tears as she spoke about her father.
“How is it that you, who brought so much life to the world, are no longer here to live with us?” she cried.
“This cursed terrorist thought he was stopping life, but he does not know how much life you left here, how much power you gave to us, which will raise us together with the Jewish people.”
His daughter talked of how dedicated the rabbi had been to his yeshiva and to its surrounding run-down neighborhood in south Tel Aviv.
A recording of two of Ettinger’s young children speaking about their father after his death was played at the funeral as well.
“Daddy, you were a hero. You shot the terrorist and you saved many people. You were a wonderful father. We really miss you,” said Hadas, his seven-year-old daughter.
“You very much loved helping people,” said his young son Ahiya.
Speaking at the funeral, Education Minister Naftali Bennett vowed to “cut off the evil” of terrorism, and said that the State of Israel needed to take action in order “to win” the battle against its enemies.
“This persistent evil, which has again and again robbed us of our dearest sons and daughters, our loved ones, must be brought to an end,” said Bennett in front of Ettinger’s family.
“Standing at your grave I say, Jewish blood will no longer be considered the cheapest commodity in the Middle East. We will be able to end terrorism only by removing the cognitive and legal restraints that prevent us from winning,” continued the minister.
Bennett described the rabbi as “a hero in life and a hero in death,” and praised both his work in establishing the Oz V’Emunah Yeshiva and his heroism in shooting at the terrorist after he himself was shot in his car.
“Rabbi Ahiad breathed the spirit of hope; with his strong spirit and by his own hands, he changed the reality of life in south Tel Aviv. How important was Rabbi Ahiad for the residents of south Tel Aviv, how much Torah and light he brought there,” said Bennett.
“Rabbi Ahiad, even in the last seconds of his great life, strived to do good. Instead of fleeing, he sprang into action, and paid with his life. He gave his life as a hero of Israel.”
Rabbi Avraham Shiller, the municipal chief rabbi of Eli, described Ettinger as “a hero in the fight against Ishmael,” meaning the Palestinians, and said that everyone would learn from his example.
“You are a hero in the might of Torah and your work to establish a yeshiva and disseminate Torah. You are a hero of the Jewish people because of your help for Jews in south Tel Aviv to strengthen them,” said Shiller.
“We will not fall. We will not bow down. We will not be broken,” he continued. “God has restored His divine presence to Zion and nothing will stop it. We will continue to flourish in all parts and corners of the Land of Israel, our holy land which God sent us to build and to make blossom and strengthen. I say to the Ishmaelites, we never took control of the Land of Israel from you.”
The other victim of the attack, Staff Sgt. Gal Keidan, was also buried on Monday morning in his hometown of Beersheba. Keidan was guarding the Ariel Junction where he was killed.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered his condolences to the families of the two men slain in the attack, describing them as “wonderful people,” and saying that: “The hearts of the entire people are with their families.”
The prime minister said that the IDF, Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and other security forces are in pursuit of the terrorists, adding that he has already given instructions to begin destroying their homes.
As well as killing Keidan and Ettinger, the terrorist also severely wounded IDF soldier Alexander Dvorsky, 19, an immigrant from Moldova, who is currently in critical condition in Beilinson Hospital.
Dvorsky underwent surgery, and is intubated and in a medically induced coma. A Beilinson Hospital spokesman said his life is still in danger but his condition is stable.
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