Hundreds of residents from the central Israeli Arab town of Tira turned up to bid their final farewell Tuesday morning to Layan Nasser, who was killed in the shooting attack at the Reina nightclub Istanbul on New Year’s Eve, as they laid her body to rest.

The devastation wrought on the family could be heard from the outset of the procession as members screamed in anguish and burst into tears as the coffin of the 19 year old was taken from the hearse. “The great hero has arrived,” they shouted as they wept.

Thousands more attended the funeral which began at 11:30am from the home of the Nasser family as they walked to the city cemetery.

The Tira municipality declared the day as a day of mourning for the city, standing in solidarity with the victim’s family and as a protest against the massacre, for which responsibility was claimed by ISIS on Monday.

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People close to the family described their disbelief at the horrifying reality which has befallen them. “It is still difficult to believe that Layan will not come back to life. She was the flower of the family. The mother is devastated,” said a family friend.

“She always says, ‘where is my precious daughter, how can I go on in life without her? Layan, wake up, even for a minute so that I can hug you and tell you that I love you so much. I want to hear your voice for just a few seconds which I miss. Why did they murder you?’”

The family also reflected on the difficulties which lie ahead in light of their tragic loss. “It will be hard for us to forget this disaster. The pain and the suffering will accompany us for a long time,” they said.

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Ranna Matira, who knew Layan personally, described her as everyone’s friend. “We all loved her. She would always say to us, ‘I really love you, take care of yourselves and always stay in touch with me. Don’t lose contact.’ It breaks my heart. The moment that I heard about her death I remembered her beautiful words,” Matira said.

Tira city Mayor Abed Al Hai Mamoun added his own words of condolence. “Tira is hurting from the pain of the Nasser family and the families that were hurt. The entire community is full of great anger over this terror attack, which is why we have declared today a day in which we channel our anger into opposition against violent terror attacks anywhere in the world.

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“The situation is not easy and this is the first time that our city has had to cope with such a hard incident like this,” he lamented.

He also urged Israelis to refrain from visiting countries in which the risk of terror attacks remains high.

“I want to ask every resident and every citizen of the state to take seriously the warnings coming out of the Counter Terrorism Bureau and not go to dangerous countries … Life is worth a lot more than anything else. Layan Nasser wanted to celebrate like all youngsters and unfortunately she paid a heavy price.”

 

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