Daily Israel Report

Sderot Victim Brought Unity

"This was a girl of all the people of Israel. This was a girl who made the entire government think," Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal said at the funeral of Kassam rocket victim Ella Abukasis.
First Publish: 1/23/2005, 2:16 PM / Last Update: 1/22/2005, 11:48 PM

Despite the inconvenient hour, some 2,000 friends, relatives, high school (ulpana) students, Bnei Akiva youth movement members and politicians escorted her to her final resting place Friday afternoon.

"Your pain is our pain," Mayor Moyal told the victim's parents. "Instead of a wedding dress, there are shrouds. Instead of the Song of the Sea [as read aloud from the Torah this Sabbath], there are songs of mourning... Ayala is no longer only your daughter; she now belongs to all of Israel, and especially to all of Sderot. She managed to make the government think differently. She united all of us... Despite the anger and our desire for vengeance, despite our being enraged, we are a proud people... We will not leave this place. We will strengthen the government of Israel and those who head it, and they will be given our trust, and G-d will put an end to our sorrows... She united all of us, both left and right."

Ella Abukasis, 17, was mortally wounded by a Kassam rocket as she was walking home with her younger brother from Sabbath youth groups last Saturday night. When she heard the public alarm warning of an impending Kassam rocket, she instinctively jumped to protect her brother, and a piece of shrapnel from the blast struck her in the head.

Her father said at the funeral, "Thank you, Ella, for ensuring that I don't have to say Kaddish [the mourning prayer] for two children today. You courageously save your brother Tamir Yaakov. He knows by heart the story of Natan Elbaz who threw himself on a grenade in order to save his friends; I promise you he will also know the story of your act of bravery, of his beloved sister."

Tamir Yaakov himself chose not to eulogize his sister with words, but rather by blowing the shofar. Eyewitnesses reported that there was not a dry eye in the crowd.

Others who eulogized the fallen girl were MK Amir Peretz (Am Echad), a former Sderot mayor who quoted her father saying, "If Ella had lived a million years, she would have enough plans for another million years," and Sderot Yeshiva head Rabbi David Fendel, who spoke about the unity that her wounding and death had brought to Israel and Sderot.

A concrete example of this unity was reported in Maariv: "Before the funeral, two youths from Sderot fought in the central shopping center, pulling out knives and threatening to kill each other. Police who arrived on the scene separated between the two, and decided to take them to the funeral of Ella so that they would keep things in proportion. When the funeral ended, the two youths hugged and forgave each other."