Iris and Uri,
Bat-Galim and Ofir,
Rachel and Avi,
Dear Yifrach, Shaer and Fraenkel families,
The honorable President and President-elect,
Distinguished participants and all who join you in grief,
Over the past 18 days, the images of Eyal, Gilad and Naftali were engraved on the hearts of all the people of Israel.
The citizens of Israel have come to know their faces, and although we regrettably did not have the privilege of meeting them as we had hoped and prayed, the magic of their smiles captivated us, as did their gentle spirit and youthful joy.
Three gifted, innocent and upstanding boys were struck down by evil murderers who, with unspeakable cruelty and without batting an eye, violated the ancient decree: "Do not lay a hand on the boy." (Genesis 22:12)
Dear families, your sons drew their moral values from you as they grew and set out on their own paths, which were cut short.
This day has spontaneously become a national day of mourning. The entire nation prayed for the boys’ return. The entire nation witnessed the noble spirit and inner strength of the parents, the mothers and fathers, the brothers and sisters, the grandparents and the rest of the family. The nation immediately recognized the depth of your roots and your strength of spirit. You have taught us an unforgettable lesson - a lesson in faith and determination, unity and sensitivity, Judaism and humanity.
The entire nation joined together and was again reminded of who we are, why we are here and, no less importantly, what great strengths we possess. The light you radiate shines even brighter in contrast to the horrific darkness of those who seek our destruction - despicable kidnappers of children, heinous murderers whose brothers rejoice at the spilling of innocent blood.
A deep and wide moral abyss separates us from our enemies. They sanctify death while we sanctify life. They sanctify cruelty while we sanctify compassion. This is the secret of our strength; it is the foundation of our unity.
Throughout the history of our people, we have proven time and again that even when faced with the greatest of tragedies and the deepest agony and despair, the force of life that pulses in us overpowers the murderous aspirations of our enemies.
I would like to say a few words to you, Rachel, Bat-Galim and Iris. You have taught the entire world the meaning of a mother's cry, a mother's love. Blessed are boys fortunate enough to have such parents and such families, and how tragic the fate that tore you apart - an incomprehensible evil.
I want to thank all the citizens of Israel for lending a hand and for your spirit of volunteerism and unity.. I especially wish to thank the soldiers of the IDF, the people of the Israel Security Agency, the Israel Police, the Border Police and all the volunteers for their tireless efforts, day and night, to find the boys.
And I wish to express my appreciation to all the people of Israel who have shown generosity of spirit and deep solidarity with three beloved families who came into our lives and into our collective consciousness through no choice of their own.
We bow our heads in deep sorrow, but we also remember the Jewish people's simple and ancient truth - "In your blood you shall live." (Ezekiel 16:6)
Today, as we bring our boys to eternal rest here in Modi'in, the birthplace of the Maccabees, I recall the words of Yitzhak Tabenkin from over 60 years ago at the grave of Yitzhak Sadeh: "A tomb in the history of Israel is not always a sign of weakness. From David's Tomb, from Rachel's Tomb, from the tombs of many others, we have drawn the commandment to live. We will now draw strength from this tomb. Today, we are dedicating a tomb that teaches us how to live."
I know, dear families, that even our nation's warmest embrace cannot erase the searing agony, the terrible pain that will continue to torment your souls long after the official grieving period is over. I know the pain of bereavement, and there is none worse. But I also know that life has a force of its own, like a river that sweeps us forward and grants us the power of renewal and hope.
And the entire nation, which cries with you and embraces you today will continue to stand by your side and offer comfort and solace.
We will always remember Eyal, Gilad and Naftali, the pure hearted boys who will stay forever young. We will remember them, and with God’s help, we will be comforted in the building of our cities and our land.
May the memory of Gilad, Eyal and Naftali be etched in our hearts forever.