The parents of Elan Ganeles, an American-Israeli citizen killed in a terrorist attack near the Dead Sea, chose to bury their son in Israel rather than their hometown of West Hartford, Connecticut.
Ganeles, 26, was shot on Monday while driving near the West Bank city of Jericho, a day after Israeli brothers Hallel Yaniv, 21, and Yagel Yaniv, 19, were shot and killed in a similar attack in the West Bank.
Ganeles was visiting Israel to attend a friend’s wedding, He had previously served in the IDF as a computer programmer before returning to the United States to earn his university degree.
He was travelling to another wedding at the time of the attack.
Family friend Yona Friedman told the Ynet news site that Ganeles’s family “were really struggling at the moment”.
During his IDF service, Ganeles often stayed at Friedman’s sister’s house in Ra’anana, where he became “like a family member”.
He was buried in Ra’anana on Wednesday.
“He felt at home in Israel,” Friedman said. “His love for Israel goes without saying – enlisting as a lone soldier is not something common in his community. It’s a testament to the strong connection he had for the country he loved so much.”
According to Noam Landau, a friend of the victim, Ganeles was planning to return to Israel to settle in the near future.
“He was surrounded by so many friends, and he was the glue that held his social group together,” Landau told Ynet.
Meanwhile, the parents of the Yaniv brothers spoke on Monday of their pain at having to bury their children, and issued a plea for unity among Israelis ahead of their funeral.
Hallel and Yagel were killed as they drove through the West Bank Palestinian town of Huwara on Sunday. Their funeral procession set out from the Har Bracha settlement where they lived, and they were laid to rest at the Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem in the presence of thousands of mourners.
“Words can’t describe this disaster,” their mother, Esti Yaniv, said at a press conference ahead of the funeral. “Instead of accompanying children to the wedding canopy, we need to bury them.”
Rabbi Shmuel Yaniv and his wife Yona, grandparents of the slain brothers, spoke earlier to the Ynet news site, describing the brothers as “children of pure gold, faithful to the homeland, to the Jewish people and the Torah”.
Shimon Naumberg, their uncle, told Ynet that they were “the salt of the earth”.
He recalled that Hallel was reluctant to go out on Sunday but Yagel convinced him to leave by offering to drive him to his destination.
Both brothers were heading to places where they planned to engage in Torah studies.
“They both died for the sake of Heaven, on their way to learn Torah,” Naumberg said.
Naumberg also spoke out against the violence that erupted following the attack when settlers rampaged through Huwara in the wake of the shooting, burning homes and vehicles. A Palestinian was killed in the violence.
“We ask to not engage in that,” Naumberg said. “In the family, we are focusing on doing good, that people should do kind acts, that they continue the way of Hallel and Yagel.”
On Sunday evening, family members arrived at the spot where they were killed to recite psalms.
Ynet reported Monday that the brothers’ parents agreed that their sons’ corneas would be donated for a transplant.
Huwara has long been a flashpoint in the West Bank as it is just about the only Palestinian town through which Israelis regularly travel in order to reach settlements in the northern West Bank.
TIMES OF ISRAEL