By Jason Pearlman, at Modiin cemetery.
The crowd, no, the multitude gathered. Silently, steadily they streamed over the hills as the sun set overhead. Solemnly packed together in the early evening heat, wave after wave of psalms and prayers swept through the crowd, as the ambulances arrived.
One, two, then three. Eyal, Gilad, Naftali. Three boys, just children, murdered in cold blood, to be laid to rest in the presence of tens, if not hundreds of thousands of mourners.
Few knew them personally, but all grieved for their children. For these slain children, and for our own children who grow up in a world where such heinous evil could exist.
And so the bodies were laid out. Eyal, Gilad, Naftali.
The voice which directs all Israel’s official ceremonies read their names, his usually steady chord shattered with the emotion of the moment.
Then the fathers recited the mourner’s prayer amid wails from the crowd, shrieks of terror at the sight of nature corrupted, parents burying their children.
Their teachers eulogised these beautiful children; students devoted to their studies, sport, music, to their families and friends.
Their places remain empty in their classrooms.
To the families, there was praise for their strength, as they offer comfort to the whole bereaved people of Israel.
Their head-teacher spoke, and lead the crowd in chanting together in Hebrew.
“I accept upon myself the commandment to love my neighbour as myself’. A message of peace. A beam of light from the very darkest depth.
The Chief Rabbi’s plea. “We have shown our strength as we united in prayers for you,” he wept, “We prayed as one. Let us move forward together as a people. As one, united.”
Then the indefatigable Benjamin Netanyahu approached the podium.
The sunset grew closer. The people looked to him to set the tone.
“Our enemies”, he said, “glorify death, and we sanctify life”. And in that moment we stood, true to his words. Mourning destruction and yearning for peace.
– The author is UK & EU Director for The Face of Israel.