American citizen Ezra Schwartz, 18, was laid to rest today in a Boston suburb after his body was flown home from the state of Israel.
Hundreds attended his funeral, which was also live streamed on the internet.
Schwartz was gunned down by a Palestinian terrorist on Thursday while he was en route to deliver food to Israeli soldiers, many of whom not much older then he was.
The Sharon, Mass., resident was spending his “gap” year (i.e., the year after high school graduation but before entering college) studying and doing community service in Israel. He was scheduled to attend Rutgers University in the fall of 2016.
The Boston Herald described what happened to Ezra Schwartz and his friends in the deadly incident, which also injured five others.
“Schwartz and two other men were killed at about 4:45 p.m. Israeli time by a Palestinian motorist who opened fire with a submachine gun at cars stuck in a traffic jam in the Gush Etzion area of the West Bank before intentionally ramming his vehicle into a group of pedestrians, according to a statement issued by the Consulate General of Israel to New England’s office.”
The gunman was taken into custody by Israeli security forces.
In a ceremony at Ben Gurion airport, Ezra’s uncle read a letter from the teen’s dad. “Ezra had a great life. We are proud of who he was and what he accomplished. He had 18 great years, and that is how we will remember him… We will never forget his sense of humor, his caring, and his love for sports.”
In a statement, the Imam of the Islamic Center of New England, which is based in Sharon, extended his deepest condolences to the Schwartz family and to the Jewish community in general and reaffirmed that the local Islamic community has consistently condemned the violence.
A friend described Ezra Schwartz as one of the “most loving, caring, and fun-loving people” that he ever encountered, CNN reported.
Numerous heartfelt tributes to the teen have also made on social media.
The Obama administration, through a spokesman, said it was “deeply saddened” about the death of the Massachusetts teenager in Israel, the Jerusalem Post reported.
A petition drive has been launched on WhiteHouse.gov in response to the death of Ezra Schwartz. It has 18,000 signatures so far. The petition reads, in part, as follows.
“We respectfully request that President Obama publicly acknowledge the senseless killing of Ezra Schwartz, condemn the attack and rebuke the Palestinian Authority for claiming that the third victim of this attack, an Israeli Arab, was killed by Israeli forces, when not a single shot was fired by Israeli military or law enforcement and the terrorist was taken into custody unharmed. Such lies are irresponsible and incite further terrorism.”
On the same day as Schwartz’s murder, two Israelis were stabbed to death in Tel Aviv, the New York Times detailed.
On his Facebook page, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced the latest acts of terrorism, which he claimed had linkage to the Paris terrorist massacre on Friday, November 13.
“Behind these terrorist attacks stands radical Islam, which seeks to destroy us, the same radical Islam that struck in Paris and threatens all of Europe. Whoever condemned the attacks in France needs to condemn the attacks in Israel. It’s the same terror.”
In recent weeks, the Jewish state has been dealing with a wave of vicious, lone-wolf terrorism perpetrated against Israeli citizens. A 21-year-old Israeli woman was murdered today in a bus stop stabbing in the same general area where Ezra Schwartz and his classmates were attacked, according to Israel National News.
In a separate incident earlier this month that was caught on video, a woman stabbed an Israeli security guard outside the Betar Illit settlement.
[Photo via Facebook]
Added: The New England Patriots honored Ezra Schwartz before last night’s NFL matchup against the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.