Thousands of people arrived in Jerusalem to accompany the coffins of 14 Gush Katif dead who were reburied in the capital's Mount of Olives cemetery on Thursday.
One after another, the coffins were lowered out of ambulances, first those of the children, then the women, and finally the men, and taken to the cemetery on the Mount of Olives.
Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, former chief rabbi of Israel, and current rabbi of Tel Aviv, addressed the mourners.
“We brought 14 of the Gush Katif evacuees to their final resting place on the Mount of Olives. This is really a farewell from all of Israel to Gush Katif, which is has been left without its dead, those that are laid out in front us here,” he said.
Convoy of ambulanes ferry dead from Gush Katif to Jerusalem (Photo: Amir Cohen)
“They were representative of the entire Gush – different beliefs, a story of varieties, of the entire world. It's sad for me that I don’t see sections of the nation actively honoring the Gush Katif dead,” said Lau.
“If they could stand, they would get up and say, we are all brothers, son of one man.”
"We must unite and build bridges, and not follow those who wish to divide us. The empty synagogues in gush Katif will be the (Holocaust museum) Yad Vashem of Gush Katif. They will be quiet monuments to the life that was there, a pillar of fire that guided the camp," said Lau.
Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, former rabbi of Rishon Letzion, said, “We ask of you, the dead, forgiveness. Pray for us in the sky for God to send us liberation in our time.”
Gush Katif’s former regional rabbi, Yigal Kaminsky, didn’t hesitate to use the funerals to attack the government. “You were uprooted to the diaspora and you uprooted us too. You destroyed, uprooted, and shattered settlements, communities, factories, and Torah centers," he said.
"Entire communities were reduced to dust by Jews. Who heard of such a thing? Who would have believed that a Jewish government is capable of doing this to its people? A government interested in advancing itself, uproots its people, and uproots the dead. When Jews do such things to other Jews who dedicate their soul to the sanctity of God, the land, and the state, it is the biggest desecration of God’s name,” said Kaminsky.
Thousands came to pay respects to Gush Katif dead (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
“You who lie here, are going on your last journey, and I hope this is the last time that you will be placed in the ground.”
Knesset chairman Reuven Rivlin spoke next, asking forgiveness from the dead. He was interrupted by people who shouted, ‘there’s no forgiveness, there’s no forgiveness, we won’t forgive and we won’t forget.”
But Rivlin continued to speak. “I came here today to ask forgiveness from the holy and pure people who died and were buried in the pure ground of Gush Katif. We did not let them rest in peace,” said Rivlin.
The father of Natanael Gavrieli, who was reburied in Jerusalem, held back tears while speaking.
“A few months ago, hundreds of thousands of people in Asia were hit with floods (tsunami disaster). This was right after the government announced it would carry out the disengagement," he said.
"And this week, after they transferred the bodies, people are once again facing floods. God is crying with us and this time the tears landed on those trying to limit our way, so that the world will know that God is a God of vengeance. The blood of those of who try to prevent our way will be avenged by God."