(JTA) — Thousands gathered in a West Bank settlement of Elkana for the funeral of a resident who was found near an Arab-Israeli village.
Reuven Schmerling’s body was found near Kafr Kassem on Wednesday with severe signs of extreme violence, the Israel Broadcasting Corp. reported.
Police and the Israel Security Agency are investigating whether his slaying was an act of terrorism or hate. The investigation’s details are subject to a gag order in Israel.
Schmerling would have celebrated his 70th birthday on the day his body was found. His friends and family were waiting to celebrate the occasion Wednesday at his home.
“Everything was ready for your birthday, we had prepared a song and a presentation, T-shirts and all, but only the birthday boy was missing,” his daughter, Idit, recalled at his funeral. “We never had the time to say goodbye and thank you for the important things you gave us: tremendous love, a beaming smile, Shabbat songs, being a devoted grandparent and for your love of fellow human beings.”
Nissan Slomiansky, a lawmaker for the pro-settler Jewish Home party, spoke at the funeral of Schmerling’s death as the result of an attack because Schmerling was Jewish.
“In the past, Jews could only pray for revenge but today, we call upon our government: Jewish blood cannot be shed without a price in the heart of the country,” he said. “We hope the murders’ nest be destroyed in Kafr Kassem.