Yoel Lehingahel, an 18-year-old Indian-origin teenager, was loved by all his friends and never got into fights with anybody, said Shlomo, a social worker who had worked with him during his absorption process in Israel.
Lehingahel, who belonged to the Jewish community in the northeast Indian state of Mizoram, had immigrated to Israel with his family less than a year ago. Shlomo recalled that Lehingahel had "acclimatised amazingly" after moving to the country and was getting along well with everybody.
However, tragedy struck on Thursday, 6 October, when he was allegedly stabbed to death during a brawl among 20 teenagers at a birthday party in the Israeli city of Kiryat Shmona.
Lehingahel had travelled north from his home in Nof Hagalil to visit his friend, a fellow Indian immigrant, when the incident is said to have occurred, The Times of Israel reported.
Meir Paltiel, who works with the community of Indian Jewish immigrants to Israel, said that Lehingahel was supposed to go home on Friday, 7 October, for Shabbat, but his friend called his family early in the morning to inform them that that there had been a fight the previous night and that Lehingahel was injured and in the hospital.
"The family didn’t even manage to leave for the hospital in Safed before they were told he had died," Paltiel was quoted as saying by Ynet.
Meanwhile, the police have arrested a 15-year-old suspect in the case, who lives in a nearby town called Chatzor Haglilit.
Later, they said that they had detained seven more minors, aged between 13 and 15, in connection with the incident. Further, Channel 12 reported that three more people had been arrested for the killing, including a soldier.
While the police are investigating all possible aspects of the case, whether the incident had a racial angle to it is still unknown.
'Act of Terror': Israeli Mayor Slams Incident
Nof Hagalil Mayor Ronen Plot took to social media to express his condolences over the incident, saying that Lehingahel was a "happy boy" and had expressed his desire to join the Israel Defence Forces.
He also called the killing an "act of terror."
"A whole life cut short because of an act of violence, which in my eyes was an act of terror in every way," he said.
Plot further added, "He only went out to a party with a friend and was just injured in this unthinkable way. It’s difficult news for all of us."
Lehingahel was a part of the Bnei Menashe Jewish community and hailed from a remote area of Mizoram.
The community is said to have descended from the biblical tribe of Manasseh, which is among the 10 tribes which were exiled from Israel over 2,500 years ago.
However, in 2005, the then Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar endorsed the community's claim to Jewish ancestry.
While around 3,000 Bnei Menashe community members have immigrated to Israel in recent years, as many as 7,000 still reside in India.
(With inputs from The Times of Israel, Ynet, and Channel 18.)