JERUSALEM (JTA) — For more than four hours, thousands mourned at a West Bank cemetery for Ari Fuld, the victim of a terrorist stabbing who is being called a hero and “a lion of Israel,” a play on his name, which means lion. Many waved Israeli flags during and after the funeral for the U.S.-born Israel activist killed outside a shopping mall near Efrat, the Etzion bloc town where he lived.
The funeral for Fuld, a 45-year-old father of four, began close to midnight Sunday, less than a day after he was attacked by a teenage Palestinian assailant. The mourners wouldn’t leave until the wee hours of Monday.
Fuld’s widow, Miriam, delivered one of many eulogies by family members.
“I don’t know how I will go on without you,” she said. “We were born 24 hours apart from one another. We didn’t know it would end like this. You fought for what you believed in. I promise to take care of the children. Your job is to look after us from above.
“You were always running towards danger instead of away from it, and you never backed down from a fight because you knew you were in the right. You fought for what you believed in. You’ve left behind a legacy for the entire world to savor, videos and stories that we will be telling for many years to come.”
Fuld’s father, Rabbi Yonah Fuld, called his son a “true hero.”
“Zion cries and the land of Israel cries. Ari influenced thousands of people all over the world,” his father said. “He was so strong, he was so full of life. He celebrated every moment, every breath. How that voice can be silent?
“He gave his life to sanctify God, to sanctify the land. If you would have asked him, that’s way he would have said he wanted to go.”
Fuld, a dual American-Israeli citizen, chased after his attacker and shot him before falling to the ground. He was declared dead at a Jerusalem hospital.
He worked for Standing Together, a nongovernmental organization that provides support for Israeli soldiers. Fuld was well known for his social media posts defending Israel and its military. He was scheduled to leave in the coming weeks on a speaking tour in the United States. In addition, he reportedly was about to launch a new Israel advocacy website in English.
Several lawmakers and government ministers attended the funeral, many of whom had visited the family during the day prior to the funeral. He was a member of the National Union Party, which is part of the Jewish Home Knesset faction.
He also was eulogized on social media and in newspapers in Israel.
“Israel lost a great hero today but not really. We didn’t lose him. He’s just been moved to a new position,” blogger Paula R. Stern wrote in a post on Facebook. “Maybe you could say he’s been promoted. He’s now a Guardian. He was always one who guarded Israel, now he watches over us from above.”
Former Knesset member Dov Lipman wrote an appreciation of Fuld in The Jerusalem Post.
“Ari and I had our disagreements, and he would argue his points with firmness, clarity and strength,” Lipman wrote. “He believed that he had to convince me to change my mind, and did not want to finish the debate with a ‘let’s agree to disagree.’ In certain cases, he believed that my stance was dangerous for the state and people of Israel, and he would continue pressing to win me over – Ari would not let me get away without answering his pointed and poignant questions.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a tweet Sunday before the funeral called Fuld a “great Israeli hero” and said he met with his parents and brothers.
“I hugged them in the name of the entire nation in this time of terrible grief,” Netanyahu wrote. “We are alive thanks to heroes like Ari. We will remember him forever.”
Israeli soldiers on Monday raided the home of the assailant Khalil Jabarin, 17, in the village of Yatta near Hebron, and measured it in preparation for demolition — standard practice for the homes of terrorists who murder Israelis. The home reportedly is slated to be razed even though Jabarin’s parents told Palestinian and Israeli security forces about their son’s plans to commit a terror attack.
Haaretz cited a source close to the Jabarin family as saying that the teen informed his parents that he planned to carry out an attack at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron. He was not found near the tomb, and then carried out the attack near Efrat.