Thousands attended the double funerals held at the Gush Etzion Junction of 14 year old Yossef Ishran and Kobi Mandel, who were discovered in the early morning hours following a night long nerve wracking search.

The bodies were found next to the Haritun Caves, half buried under a pile of blood-soaked rocks with only their feet sticking out, a short distance from their homes in Tekoa. Next to their bodies were strewn their bags containing their uneaten sandwiches and water which they had taken with them on what was going to be a fun day of seeking out a suitable place to hold the traditional Lag B’Omer bonfire on Thursday night.

The massive crowd of mourners included hundreds of children, friends from the two schools which they attended in Efrat and Alon Shvut as well as their many friends from Tekoa. The crowd, who arrived for the scheduled 4:30 p.m. funeral was turned back after the loudspeaker announced that there would be a two hour delay of the funeral procession leaving Tekoa. In silence the huge crowd slowly emptied back into their cars and the buses. Only after returning to the funeral site did we learn the reason for the delay. Lab test results. Not satisfied with crushing the skulls of the two youngsters, the inhuman murderers continued to mutilate and abuse the bodies long after their last breaths were drawn. Those who discovered the bodies reported that the faces were so badly mutilated that they were no longer recognizable as human beings. The only way to make a definite identification was through fingerprints.

The massive crowd awaited the funeral procession that was on its way from Tekoa. Two stands awaited the bodies which would be laid out for the eulogies before being taken to the two respective cemeteries – Kobi would be laid to rest in Kfar Etzion and Yossef in Jerusalem. Psalms were chanted over the loudspeaker and the crowd chanted back the words of the psalms written centuries ago by King David – many of these psalms were written in the very caves near where the boys were found dead when King David hid in the Judean Desert caves when fleeing from King Saul and his soldiers.

A choked hush went through the crowd when the family was announced. The hundreds of children held on to each other, tears streaming down their faces. The mass of mourners, covering every inch of ground, parted like the Red Sea to make way for the families. The crowd made an audible gasp and broke into quiet sobs as first the small talit (prayer shawl) wrapped body of Yossef Ishran was brought forth and lowered onto the stand followed by his family who huddled around the body, hugging, holding and weeping over their dead son and brother. Then came the body of Kobi, wrapped in his father’s talit, the same one his father wore when he proudly held his first-born son Kobi at his circumcision ceremony when he was eight days old. Following came Kobi’s father, Seth, holding six year old Gabi in his arm while trying to hold on with his other hand to eleven year old Lilliana and twelve year old Daniel. The heartbroken sobs of the small children who stood over their big brother’s body was too much to bear. The whole crowd weeped along outloud. Then Kobi’s mother, Sheri was led/carried to the body of her first born child. The sight of the raw pain on her beautiful face cut like a knife into the hearts of all. Sheri, a talented author and teacher of creative writing lay her head down on her sons body weeping inconsolably and we felt like our hearts would break. For long moments we stood there crying, speechless. School children crying on their friends shoulders, adults, friends and family.

In his eulogy, Saul Goldstein, regional mayor of Gush Etzion, talked about the need to close down the PLO’s broadcasting networks where there are daily calls for murder of the Zionists and incitement against the Jews is broadcasted 24 hours a day.

Before the rocks, bullets, knives, bombs – it is the words that kill. Hate is contributed through education, incitement, the general environment. There is a direct connection between incitement calling for killing the Zionist enemy blasting daily from Palestinian media to Syria’s dictator Assad pointing at the Jews as Jesus’ murderer and humiliater of Prophet Muhammad, while his Defense Minister Dr. Mustafah Tallas was quoted in the L.B.C. Lebanese network saying “If every Arab kills a Jew, then there will be no more Jews”. He also said “I want to stand in place and kill the Jew standing opposite me”. This incitement goes along with Egypt’s very popular no. 1 hit number called: “I hate Israel”, played constantly over the Egyptian airwaves. This is the climate which produced the murderers who butchered two sweet beautiful innocent Jewish boys looking for a place to build a bonfire.

The children of Tekoa promised to hold their bonfires tonight at the site of the murder. The cave where the bodies were found is situated at the edge of the Judean desert, less than a kilometer from Tekoa. These big caves, the largest in the Middle East, where the prophet Amos, as is written, tended his flocks in “Tekoa” held all the mysteries and adventure of Adventureland. It was the place the children of Tekoa go to hang out, talk to wandering Bedoiuns tending their flocks, paint, meditate and celebrate the beauty of nature. For the children of Tekoa it was the extention of their backyards. The beautiful landscape this time of year is covered in the bloom of spring. Now it is sprinkled with blood.

Wake up Israel. Wake up world. Smell the blood.

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Noam Bedein is a director of the Sderot Media Center. It is a media advocacy center which portrays the human face of Sderot and southern Israel under siege, to the international media and public. Noam, a native of Tzfat, grew up in Efrat, Israel. After finishing the Beit El Yeshiva High School, Noam learned at a pre-Army training program in the Jordan Valley and then served for three years as an IDF sergeant for an artillery scout unit along the Lebanese border. After the army, Noam served as an emissary for The Jewish Agency in Boston, Massachusetts and then traveled for a year in the Far East.

Upon his return to Israel, Noam relocated to Sderot and pioneered the “Sderot Media Center for the Western Negev Ltd", which has spawned the Sderot Media Center. In this position, Noam is a photojournalist, lecturer and gives briefings to foreign government officials, embassies, foreign press and student groups from around the world.

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