TEL AVIV – Thousands of mourners gathered in the West Bank settlement of Kfar Etzion around midnight for the funeral of an Israeli-American father of four who was stabbed in a terror attack Sunday.
Ari Fuld was eulogized as a hero and a “warrior of Israel.”
The 44-year-old Fuld was stabbed in the back by a Palestinian terrorist, 17-year-old Khalil Jabarin, outside a new shopping mall near the victim’s home in the Gush Etzion bloc of the West Bank.
Eyewitnesses said some ten thousand people showed up to pay their last respects at the funeral, which took place well after midnight.
“He was a true hero. Not only in his death, but all of his life,” his father Rabbi Yonah Fuld said in his eulogy. “He was a giant of strength, of passion, of love for his family. … He was a hero to all.”
His wife, Miriam Fuld, said her husband left a strong legacy.
“You were a good man. I am not sure how to go on without you. We were born less than 24 hours apart and it seems that we lived our lives side by side. I’m not sure how to go on without you. 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,” she said. “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.”
“We always watched the news together and wondered how families and wives could be so strong. But that is what we do. We get knocked down and we get right back up, because life is a package deal and we can’t pick and choose. We must accept the good and the bad,” Miriam added.
“Now it is my turn to be strong and continue onward. I used to tell you, just tell me that everything is going to be alright. I would give anything to hear you say that right now,” she said. “But you have to do your part as well and watch over us from above.”
“Thank you for 24 crazy years together. I love you, I love you, I love you. I always will,” she concluded.
Before the funeral, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu paid an unannounced condolence visit to the Fuld family.
“We are alive because of heroes like Ari. We will always remember him,” Netanyahu said.
His brother, Doni, described him as a “superhero.”
“You fought evil and lies not only with physical strength in your body, but with your mouth, your neshama (soul) and your mind, no holds barred, no fear,” he said.
Another brother, Moshe, commented on the moments before his death. In an incredible feat that was captured by several security cameras, Fuld, after being stabbed in the back, pursued his attacker for several hundred feet, shooting him all the while before collapsing.
“Who else could manage, upon sustaining a fatal injury, to draw his pistol, jump a fence and shoot his attacker to make sure that his attacker would not hurt anyone else; only my brother, only my brother,” Moshe said.
Fuld’s murder sparked an outpouring of grief and outrage from across the political spectrum.
“I am totally shocked, sad, and dismayed, also on a personal level,” wrote Yariv Oppenheimer, the former director of the leftwing anti-settlement group Peace Now. “I met Ari on the Israeli Frenemies program we co-hosted on ILTV. A real ideologue, who believed in his path. I am so sad for him and his family.”
At the cemetery, mourners broke into song while waiting for the funeral to begin.
Shortly after his death, U.S. Ambassador David Friedman said Fuld was “a passionate defender of Israel and an American patriot,” adding that the dual citizen was “the best of both countries.”
“America grieves as one of its citizens was brutally murdered by a Palestinian terrorist. Ari Fuld was a passionate defender of Israel & an American patriot. He represented the best of both countries & will be deeply missed. May his family be comforted & his memory be blessed,” Friedman tweeted.
The shopping center where he was killed is used by both Israelis and Palestinians and has been the site of several terror attacks in recent years.