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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Daniel Wultz remembered in J'lem

The collective grief of some 400 mourners filled the Nitzanim Synagogue and spilled into the streets of Jerusalem's tree-lined Baka neighborhood Monday, as family, friends and strangers inspired by Daniel Wultz's courageous 27-day fight for life came to pay last respects to the American teen before his body was flown to his home in Weston, Florida, for burial.

The service was restrained, but murmuring among those assembled expressed satisfaction that IDF troops and elite border policemen had shot dead seven Palestinians Sunday - among them Elias Ashkar, the mastermind of the April 17 felafel stand bombing that claimed the lives of Wultz and 10 others.


Dubbed Israel's most-wanted terrorist, Ashkar assembled the explosives belt used in the attack and is believed to have been behind all the Islamic Jihad suicide attacks during the past year, according to the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency).

"It will not bring Daniel back, but it will send a definite message to those that seek to kill Jews," said Menahem Kuttner, director of activities of Tzeirei Chabad Terror Victims Projects, who organized Monday's service. "It is not only the IDF's duty to defend, but to prevent and to retaliate after terrorist attacks."

"On one hand it's poetic justice, but it also shows the futility of it all," said a family member. "Daniel's still dead. Nothings changes."

"Our biggest revenge is showing that we are not stopping our lives," said Yuval Wultz, Daniel's cousin.

Those who eulogized Wultz chose to speak of the teenager's strength of character and his inspirational fight for life.

"Daniel was 16 years old, and I need 16 years to tell you about Daniel, because every day was different," said his father Tuly, who suffered wounds to his legs when the bomber blew up meters from where he and Daniel sat for lunch. "You left us, Daniel. You did a heroic, unbelievable fight, the fight of your life. But it was too much. I was honored to be your father, and privileged and lucky to have you for 16 years."

Others described Wultz a a deeply spiritual young man with a passion for basketball and for Israel. "Daniel was a person who radiated kindness and peace and love to anyone he was around," said Eitan Lukin, 16, who studied and played pick-up games with him at the David Posnack Hebrew Day school in Florida, before he made aliya with his family nine months ago. "He loved Israel, and he wanted to live here after he finished high school."

US Ambassador Richard Jones offered condolences to the bereaved family and placed a triangular folded flag on the casket. He also praised Wultz's strength in fighting to survive for 27 days, considering the severity of his wounds.

"Although the bloodthirsty terrorists took Daniel's life, they cannot deprive us of his spirit," he said.

Wultz died of complications associated with infections stemming from his massive injuries on Sunday to become the 11th fatality of the attack.

He will be buried on Tuesday following a memorial service at the Chabad Lubavitch synagogue in Weston.

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