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'I know we lost an excellent officer'

President Rivlin visited the bereaved families of Erez Orbach and Shir Hajaj, murdered in Sunday's terrorist attack at Armon Hanatziv.

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Yoel Domb,

Rivlin at the Orbach's home
Rivlin at the Orbach's home
Amos Ben Gershom

President Rivlin returned from a state visit to Georgia and immediately went to offer condolences to the bereaved families from Sunday's murderous terror attack in Armon Hanatziv. On Wednesday he arrived at the Orbach family in Alon Shvut and at the Hajaj family in Maale Adumim who lost their children Erez Orbach and Shir Hajaj in the terror attack.

At the Orbach family home the president met his parents,grandmothers and grandfathers and his brothers. "Erez was a very promising young man who had begun to fulfill his family's aspirations," said the president, adding "his story, of fighting for public service even while suffering from complicated limitations, these are the stories which built the ethos of the Jewish nation in Israel. When I received the news of this tragedy, I was on my way to a state visit to Georgia. Even though in my heart I wished to stay in Israel, I realized that this would give a prize to terror. I carried Erez and Shir with me at all times.

"Erez fought to enlist and redefined excellence in the way in which he executed his duties. We have lost a special officer, I am certain," said the president.

Erez's grandfather and grandmother told the president of the pain but also of the comfort they derived from hearing stories about who he was from his friends and commanding officers.

"Erez was a child who gave me tremendous satisfaction, he was a gushing spring. He was always doing and always said to me 'as much as is possible.' Erez believed that there are no failures, there are lessons [to be learnt]," said his mother, Keren Or.

Uri, his father, told the president about a dream which Erez recently expressed during the course of one of the lessons he attended at the officer's training course, "to be a good person and improve all the time."

Uri added that "people from all over the country, who didn't know Erez or us, are coming here and saying "we heard so we came. In this way I suddenly understood the words 'all of Israel are friends.' It teaches me that we are all united, even if sometimes there is a little turbulence."

"These are really encouraging words," said the president. "One doesn't get used to mourning but our strength all the way was in the unity which you spoke about."

As he was leaving the president blessed Erez's mother "that your children should be the crown of their parents. You are a family which fills us with pride."

At the Hajaj home in Maale Adumim, the president met her parents, Herzl and Meirav, as well as her sisters. Her parents told the president about her research project during her academic studies and about their great pride in discovering aspects of her personality which they had not known through her friends and teachers.

Her mother told the president that "Shir was a daughter who gave to us nonstop. Her respect for us was endless. She helped us endlessly, donated to all around her and all voluntarily, both to us and to her friends."

Her father told the president about her long road to enlistment as an academic reservist and the great satisfaction she derived from her studies. "I hope the story of Shir will serve as an inspiration for many children to study and grow, to attain education and to excel."

The president responded by saying that "your daughter was 22, the research projects you showed me demonstrate that she was a special girl. She was a special flower and when I meet you I see in what flowerbed this special flower grew and it is no surprise to me. Every flowerbed has gardeners and you, my dear friends, did a remarkable and admirable job."