Rabbi Achiad Ettinger, who was critically hurt in Sunday's terror attack in the West Bank, has died of his wounds, his family said Monday.
According to the IDF, Sunday's attack apparently began when 20-year-old Omar Abu Lila, from the village of Az-Zawiya, stabbed Staff Sgt. Gal Keidan at Ariel Junction in the northern West Bank, stole his rifle and then shot and fatally wounded the 19-year-old soldier.
The terrorist used the weapon to fire at three vehicles at the junction, including that of Rabbi Ettinger, a 47-year-old father of 12. According to the family, the rabbi realized he was caught up in a terror attack and opened fire on the terrorist before he himself was shot. The terrorist then hijacked a car and drove to another nearby junction, where he shot a third person before fleeing into a nearby Palestinian village, the military said.
The rabbi was critically wounded and while doctors at Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva fought for almost 24 hours to save his life, he ultimately succumbed to his wounds.
The Jerusalem Post quoted Ettinger’s son-in-law Ze'ev Goldstein as praising the rabbi for his great bravery, and said the family believed that "he prevented a greater terror attack from occurring."
The security footage from the scene of the attack shows Lila approach the bus station where the 19-year-old Keidan was patrolling the area.
The attacker is then seen confronting the soldier, grabbing his weapon and shooting him at point blank range, while soldiers stationed on the other side of the intersection opened fire at the Palestinian.
The statement from the Ettinger family announced "the passing of the blessed Rabbi Achiad Ettinger, who fell with the grace of God at the hands of a lowly murderer during a terror attack in which he revealed daring, mental strength and courage, while shooting at the despicable terrorist.
"We thank all the staff at Beilinson Hospital, the Magen David Adom teams and the Samaria security division, and all the people of Israel who prayed for his recovery."
The family have decided to donate the rabbi's organs in order to save other lives.
For the past three years, Rabbi Ettinger was the head of the Oz and Emunah hesder yeshiva (seminary that combines religious study with IDF service) in the Neve Sha'anan neighborhood of southern Tel Aviv.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his sorrow over the rabbi's death on behalf of the nation.
"The nation of Israel today mourns the murder of Rabbi Achiad Ettinger," Netanyahu said. "I send my condolences to his family in this terrible time. May his memory be a blessing.
President Reuven Rivlin also paid tribute to the rabbi, vowing that his work would continue after his passing.
“Heart-breaking news of the death of Rabbi Achiad Ettinger ז"ל who was injured in yesterday's terrible terrorist attack that also claimed the life of Staff Sergeant Gal Keidan," Rivlin said in a statement released by his office. "I was able to get to the hospital yesterday to be with his family who were praying for his recovery. I embraced them on behalf of all Israelis and was overwhelmed by their strength.
"Rabbi Ettinger's life's work will continue and be amongst us even after his passing, and the strength he gave his pupils and the community he led will continue to strengthen us through the enormous grief and sorrow.”
Staff Sgt. Keidan was to be laid to rest at 11am Monday in his hometown of Be'er Sheva. The third victim of the attack, IDF soldier Alexander Dvorsky from Nazareth Illit, is still in serious condition at Beilinson Hospital.