Yonatan Havakuk, Oren Ben Yiftah and Boaz Gol, the three victims of the terrorist attack in Elad, were laid to rest on Friday afternoon.
A joint funeral procession began at 12:30 pm at the site of the deadly attack the night before at Ibn Gabirol Square in the central city.
Ben Yiftah, 35, a driver who was working in Elad for an event at the time of the attack, was buried in Lod. Havakuk, 44, a resident of Elad, was buried in Petah Tikva while Gol, 49, also from Elad, was laid to rest in Jerusalem.
The three men were murdered Thursday evening by two Palestinian terrorists who attacked a crowd of people with an ax and a knife near a park in the religious city of Elad towards the end of Israel’s Independence Day. At least seven others were wounded in the attack, including three seriously.
The deaths bring to 19 the number of people killed in terror attacks against Israeli targets since March, in the worst spate of terrorism for years.
The two terrorists — identified by police as As’ad Yousef As’ad al-Rifa’i, 19, and Subhi Emad Subhi Abu Shqeir, 20 — remained at large as of Friday afternoon.
Thousands of mourners turned out to pay their final respects to the three men, who left behind 16 children between them — six to Ben Yiftah and five each to Gol and Havakuk.
Lod Mayor Yair Revivo said Ben Yiftah worked hard to support his family “despite all the difficulties, despite all the challenges, and this was his fate… it’s impossible to comprehend.”
Rabbi Chaim Ov, the leader of the synagogue that Gol attended, said his absence will be deeply felt.
“You were always the first at the Torah class, you will be missed by all of us,” said Ov. “You were a righteous man, you always helped others… your loss is a public one.”
Earlier Friday, Havakuk’s widow said her husband fought one of the attackers, enabling others to flee to safety.
“My heart refuses to believe that I was left alone with five orphans. My heart burns that my tender child saw his father in his last moments,” wrote Linor Havakuk in a post in a Facebook group for residents of Elad.
“My husband fought against them with great heroism and saved many lives. He fought with them for long minutes, which allowed many to flee the scene,” she wrote. “God bless you, dear and beloved husband. We will miss you very much.”
Galit Gol, the widow of Boaz Gol, decreed her family’s loss.
“How did I lose him? God, why did this happen to us? Why do we deserve this?” she shouted outside the family’s home in Elad, according to the Ynet news site.
“In one day my life ended. In one day everything turned upside down.”
Family members said he was on his way to a Torah lesson when he was killed.
Oren’s twin brother, Lior Ben Yiftah, said the news of his death was devastating.
“He had a heart of gold, he only did good things and wanted to help others,” Lior told Ynet, saying that he had seen his brother only hours before the attack as they celebrated Independence Day together at a barbecue.
Since receiving the news, Lior said, “I am only in pain. My flower is gone, my heart has gone with him… I can’t believe my brother is gone.”
Along with the those killed, at least three others were seriously wounded in the attack, one of whom doctors said earlier Friday was still fighting for his life.
Israeli security forces have launched a massive manhunt for the perpetrators of the attack, who were still at large.
According to police, the security services believe that the two terrorists, both from Rumana, carried out the attack in Elad. They called on the public to provide any information as to the whereabouts of the two men.
Hebrew media reports said the two entered Israel illegally through a breach in the West Bank security barrier. They are believed to have been familiar with the central Israeli city and may have worked there.
Elad, a town of some 50,000 residents, is located a short distance to the west of the West Bank security barrier, which has been frequently breached by terrorists carrying out attacks.
In addition to the suspects in the Elad attack, the perpetrators of the recent deadly attacks in Bnei Brak and Tel Aviv also hailed from Jenin and its environments.
Thursday’s attack followed a wave of terror attacks in Israel and the West Bank in recent weeks, and repeated threats by Palestinian terror groups over the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
It brought the number of people killed in terror attacks in Israel and the West Bank since March 22 this year to 19.
Emanuel Fabian and Aaron Boxerman contributed to this report.