JERUSALEM (JTA) — U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman in a condolence letter to the family of a West Bank rabbi killed in a Palestinian stabbing attack said that “the government and the people of the United States of America are standing with you.”
In the letter, released on Sunday to media outlets, Friedman told the wife and children of Itamar Ben Gal that: “Once again, my heart breaks as I reach out to a beautiful family that has lost a husband and a father.”
Rabbi Itamar Ben Gal, a 29-year-old father of four children, was fatally stabbed at a bus stop at the entrance to the northern West Bank settlement of Ariel on February 5. The rabbi was from the settlement of Har Bracha, and had been on the way to the brit of his newborn nephew.
The attack came less than a month after Rabbi Raziel Shevach, a father of six from the West Bank outpost of Gilad Farm, was killed in a drive-by attack carried out by a Palestinian terror cell. Friedman also sent a condolence letter to the Shevach family.
“Upon hearing your words at the funeral about the life of your husband, it became clear to me that you, too, have an inner strength and courage cultivated by a life of care and concern for others,” Friedman wrote in the letter to Miriam Ben Gal.
The letter was brought to the family on Sunday, the last day of the seven-day shiva mourning period, by Yesha Council chairman Hananel Dorani.
Friedman on Friday tweeted criticism of the Haaretz daily newspaper for a column critical of the Har Bracha settlement and his donation 20 years ago of an ambulance for it.