Thousands attended the Monday night funeral of 16-year-old Shira Banki, who died on Sunday after being stabbed at last week’s Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem.
Banki, a high school student from Jerusalem, was buried at Kibbutz Nahshon cemetery, near Beit Shemesh.
In an emotional eulogy, Banki’s parents, Milka and Uri, spoke of their daughter’s compassion, intelligence, and vitality.
“We had four wonderful children, all of whom are intelligent, beautiful, kind, and especially, good friends to one another,” said Uri. “Now we are left with three children – with the pain, longing and shock that every parent would rather die than feel.”
Religious assailant stabs six at Jerusalem Gay Pride march
“We had a daughter who was blessed, had great genes and an excellent education,” he continued. “And we are not too modest to take credit for two out of three of these qualities.”
Noting Shira’s formidable intelligence, her parents said they equally valued her “emotional intelligence.”
Although their daughter was not part of the LGBT community, her parents praised her for nonetheless supporting the rights of all people to live as they choose, as well as her message of love and tolerance.
“We are proud of Shira’s achievements and know that everyone is in pain from her murder,” Uri continued. “This is the needless death of an innocent young girl.”
Invoking their daughter’s legacy of tolerance, her parents emphasized that they do not blame the ultra-Orthodox community for a crime carried out by one individual.
“We want to say that we have no quarrel with the [ultra-Orthodox] people,” Uri said. “Our quarrel is with intolerance – with hatred – and achieving goals at the painful expense of others.”
Banki’s parents said they will rebuild their shattered lives, while not capitulating to the unbridled hatred that took their daughter’s.
“Now we will go home and begin to build a new family, and to learn to live as five instead of six,” the parents said. “We will try to hate less and love more, and this is what we offer to everyone.”
President Reuven Rivlin also honored Banki’s memory on Monday night at a speech addresses to thousands of teenagers attending an event marking the 90th anniversary of the General Federation of Students and Young Workers Movement in Haifa.
“Shira was a girl of principles,” said Rivlin, noting that her family donated her organs to save other lives.
“She joined the Gay Pride Parade in the name of the values in which she believed – tolerance, equality, hope, and love. Her life, which was deliberately cut short, was that of a young citizen, who was involved, engaged, active, interested, and responsible.”
The president emphasized that every citizen must independently fight intolerance and incitement whenever it appears, and cautioned about the dangers of indifference.
Banki died on Sunday afternoon while being treated at Hadassah-University Medical Center’s neurosurgery department for a stab wound that blocked blood flow to her head, resulting in brain death.
The suspect, Yishai Schlissel, of the West Bank community of Modi’in Illit, was released from prison three weeks earlier after serving a 10-year sentence for stabbing three people at the 2005 Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade.
After the attack, the Judea and Samaria District police said it was not required to track Schlissel following his release, even though he lives in its jurisdiction.
Jerusalem district Asst.-Ch. Moshe Edri said a probe is being carried out to determine why police did not have actionable intelligence that Schlissel was at the parade.
The committee overseeing the investigation is scheduled to issue its findings in two weeks, including which officers are to blame for the policing failures.
On Monday, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said that Banki’s murder was preventable and that he is overseeing a team charged with investigating the stabbing and presenting its findings to a committee to ensure that it does not occur again.