(JTA) — Thousands of people gathered in the West Bank settlement of Elkana for the funeral of a resident whose body was found near an Arab village.
Reuven Schmerling’s body was found near Kafr Kassem, an Arab-Israeli village, on Wednesday with severe signs of extreme violence, the Israel Broadcasting Corporation 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 turned 70 when his body was found. His friends and family were waiting to celebrate the occasion Wednesday at his home in Elkana.
“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 Jewish Home rightist party, also attended the funeral. He spoke of Schmerling’s murder as a terror attack.