Funeral held for West Bank mother of 6 as search for killer moves to 2nd day
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Funeral held for West Bank mother of 6 as search for killer moves to 2nd day

The husband and children of Dafna Meir grieving at her funeral in Jerusalem the day after her stabbing death in the West Bank, Jan. 18, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90)

The husband and children of Dafna Meir grieving at her funeral in Jerusalem the day after her stabbing death in the West Bank, Jan. 18, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90)

TEL AVIV (JTA) — Hundreds attended the funeral for the Israeli mother of six who was stabbed to death in her West Bank home as the manhunt continued for her assailant.

Dafna Meir, 38, was laid to rest Monday morning at the Har Hamenuhot cemetery in Jerusalem. Among those on hand were Education Minister Naftali Bennett, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and opposition leader Isaac Herzog.

Meir, a nurse, was stabbed to death in her home the previous day in the Otniel settlement. Three of her children were present.

Her 17-year-old daughter, Ranana, witnessed the attack and described the assailant to Israeli authorities, according to Israeli media reports.

In her eulogy at the funeral, Ranana called her mother her best friend.

“You left us with an enormous vacuum,” she said. “You won’t come with me to my wedding, to the army, to the delivery room. I’m sorry I couldn’t help you during the hardest moments.”

Meir died while attempting to fight off her attacker and prevent him from hurting the three children, who were home when he entered the house, the Israeli media reported. He fled after killing Meir and did not attempt to stab any of her children.

According to Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Meir’s four biological children ranged in age from 11 to 14, and two adopted kids were 4- and 6-year-old boys. Meir, who worked at Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba, was adopted at 13.

In the manhunt for her killer, dozens of Palestinians were detained in overnight sweeps throughout the West Bank, according to Israeli media reports.

His escape was captured by security footage, but investigators have been unable to determine how he entered the settlement. Israeli media reports circulated theories that the suspect was employed as a construction worker in the settlement, and thus entered through the front gate.

On Sunday night, the Hebron Hills Regional Council banned Palestinian workers from entering area settlements the next day, the Times of Israel reported.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement Monday sending his condolences to the family, including Meir’s husband, Natan, and vowed swift punishment.

“Whoever tries to harm us, we will bring him to justice,” Netanyahu said. “In the end he will be found and he will pay the full price.”

On Monday morning, the West Bank was the scene of another stabbing attack — of a pregnant Israeli woman — in the Tekoa settlement. The woman was moderately injured, according to Magen David Adom.

Tekoa is in the Gush Etzion bloc, which has been the scene of several deadly incidents since the spate of attacks by Palestinian assailants began in October.