As a young woman, Yonit Ashkenazi had already experienced the brutality of terrorism. In 1979, her brother David was killed in a terror attack. Over 40 years later, another terrorist slayed her husband. Moti Ashkenazi, 59, was one of the three Israelis killed in Ariel on Tuesday.
A father of three from Yavne, Moti also had two grandchildren. He and Yonit were planning to join the celebrations for the fourth birthday of one of them on Wednesday. Instead, he left for work at around 4 a.m. and never made it back to his home.
His family described him as “a very loving person” and an “exemplary husband”.
The Palestinian terrorist was identified as Muhammed Souf, from the nearby village of Hares. He was 18 years old and had a valid permit to work as a cleaner at Ariel’s industrial park, where he began his attack. On Tuesday morning, he stabbed a security guard near the entrance and then ran to a nearby gas station where he stabbed three more people, killing two and wounding the third. He then managed to steal a car and drove west on the wrong side of Highway 5 where he crashed into eight vehicles, killing another person. As he was trying to flee by foot, he was neutralized by an off-duty soldier and an IDF officer.
Another victim of the attack was Tamir Avihay, 50, a father of six children between 10 and 29.
“My father was full of joy, and now the world will miss his joy,” Liron, one of his daughters, said at the funeral according to Ynet.
“Why didn’t you say bye to me? I am your best friend. You never leave without saying goodbye,” another daughter, Shirel, said in tears. “They took my best friend from me. You were the only one who knew the way to my heart.”
The third victim, Michael Ledigin, 36, was a new immigrant from Russia. He had moved to Israel five years ago with his family to pursue his Zionist ideals. He had two children aged seven and 12.
“He was a very honest, very kind person,” said his wife Yevgenya. “He knew how to do everything, the children adored him. He always had something to do for them, played with them and cooked for them so that they wouldn’t be bored. I don’t understand how I will go on without a husband.”
According to Ynet, most of Ledigin’s family still lives in Russia and his parents were due to arrive in Israel on Wednesday.
Yossi Dagan, the head of the Samaria Regional Council, to which Ariel belongs, attended Avichay’s funeral.
“It is unthinkable that you died on the land of Samaria, which you loved so much,” he said. “You were loved by everyone, always smiling and optimistic and happily helping everyone.
“We are standing here because the Israeli government has abandoned the security of its residents,” he also said. “We demand that the incoming government change the situation and not give up on security.”