Tears mingled with a soft drizzle as hundreds of mourners - perhaps more than a thousand - thronged the winding dirt road leading from this Samaria settlement's central synagogue to the cemetery, accompanying Ido Zoldan's tallit-draped body on its final journey.
The synagogue that now reverberated with fiery eulogies by right-wing MKs, rabbis and activists blaming the present government for Ido's death was one of many projects across Judea and Samaria built by Ido's father, Nahman, a well-known building contractor.
It was also where, four years ago, Ido and his wife Tehila, both raised in Kedumim, were married.
On Monday night at about 11:30 p.m., Ido was shot four times in the chest and neck by Palestinian terrorists who ambushed him on his way back to his home in Shavei Shomron, a settlement just a few kilometers from Kedumim. Ido had just finished studying with a friend in a neighboring settlement. The book they had been studying was Faith and Trust, a book of Jewish theology by Rabbi Avraham Karelitz (known as the Hazon Ish).
Ido's many eulogizers, who included Rabbi Menahem Felix of Elon Moreh, Rabbi David Dudkevitch of Yitzhar and former Kedumim Council chair Daniella Weiss, all tied Ido's murder to Monday's cabinet decision to release 411 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails ahead of the Annapolis talks.
MK Effi Eitam (National Union) said the government was to blame for Ido's death.
"The government that freed terrorists, froze settlement growth and strengthened [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] is an accomplice to this murder," Eitam told The Jerusalem Post during the funeral procession. "The people sitting in this government pulled the trigger."
Eitam rejected the idea that his comments constituted incitement.
"I am just telling the truth. We warned them," he said. "Those who are responsible for cutting [Ido's] throat must pay with their parliament seats. The Israeli public is not stupid. They know that our present leadership is bringing us to the brink of an abyss. They will vomit up those cynics."
Ido's friends said the answer to the murder was to continue to build new settlements and increase their influence on the direction of political leadership.
Oren Adi, the Magen David Adom paramedic who arrived on the scene just minutes after the shooting, was also a friend of Ido's. He pointed out that one of the newest illegal outposts, Shvut Ami, was located just a few hundred meters from where Ido met his demise.
"A lot of people here think that settling Shvut Ami would be the proper answer to the horrible crime committed against Ido," he said.
Another friend said that expanding settlements in Judea and Samaria and building new ones would be a testament to Ido's legacy.
Friends said that all of Ido's major endeavors had been imbued with a strong faith in the divinely-ordained renaissance of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel.
Ido postponed army service to study Torah at Yeshivat Beit El. But unlike many of his peers, who chose to do shortened military service within a religious framework (hesder), Ido opted for a full three-year stint. He was accepted to the elite Golani reconnaissance unit and later became an officer.
"For Ido, military service was a religious and ideological duty that he saw as a sacred mission," said Amatzia Ha'eytan, Ido's brother-in-law.
Ha'eytan recalled how Ido, just minutes before entering Jenin as part of the 2002 Operation Defensive Shield, taught his fellow soldiers, most of whom were secular, a song based on a verse from the book of Judges. The verse tells of how Samson, already blinded and on the verge of despair, beseeches God to grant him one last victory against the Philistines.
"Everybody was really nervous before the battle," recounted Ha'eytan. "But Ido broke the ice. He began singing 'O Lord God remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me only this once, O God, that I be avenged on the Philistines for one of my two eyes.' The entire unit went into Jenin singing that song."
After completing his IDF service, Ido joined his father's construction firm, Kedumim 3,000, and instituted a new "Hebrew labor only" policy. Foreign workers and Palestinians were laid off, and only Jews were employed. Ido did all the backbreaking labor of any other construction worker out of a conviction that the Jewish nation should be self-reliant and should not shy away from performing even the most menial tasks.
Ido and his wife established their home in Homesh, from which they were later evicted as part of the 2005 disengagement plan. Ido, Tehila and their son Aharon joined other former Homesh residents in creating a neighborhood of "expelled" settlers in nearby Shavei Shomron.
Ido became involved in a movement called Homesh First, which aimed to reestablish Homesh and turn it into a springboard for a settlement revival in Judea and Samaria. This past summer, Ido joined hundreds of other settlement activists and marched to the evacuated site, sometimes grappling along the way with IDF soldiers and police who tried to prevent the march.
In the end, Ido and the other Homesh First activists were evacuated.
Despite the setbacks, Ido harbored hopes that one day he and his family would return to Homesh.
Ido leaves behind his wife, his three-year-old son, and a one-year-old daughter Rachel. His loss is also mourned by his parents, his three brothers and twin sisters, and a grandfather who survived the Holocaust.
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