‘A Lion’: Israeli Police Officer Who Died While Taking Down Bnei Brak Terrorist Laid to Rest
An Israeli police officer killed in a gun battle that took down a terrorist who murdered five people in a shooting rampage in the Israeli city of Bnei Brak was laid to rest on Thursday, with eulogists describing him as a “lion” and a “hero of the State of Israel.”
Sgt. Amir Khoury rushed to the scene of Tuesday’s Bnei Brak attack with his partner on a police motorcycle. They exchanged fire with the Palestinian gunman, Diaa Hamarsheh, killing him but leaving Khoury mortally wounded. He died soon after.
Khoury, 32, who is from an Arab Catholic family, was mourned at a ceremony at the Church of Annunciation in Nazareth, from which he was conveyed in a procession to be buried in the nearby town of Nof Hagalil, where he lived. Thousands of people from across Israel took part in the procession.
Israeli news site Walla reported Khoury’s father Jiris eulogizing his son, saying, “On Tuesday morning, you left me with an embrace and told me that you would be home on Friday. You returned a day early, in a coffin. I’m sorry that I am separated from you. Children bury their parents, and here everything has turned upside down. My beloved son, I love you. If you had known how many people from across the country called, came to mourn, from Beit Shemesh, Jerusalem, Rehovot… They said they felt an obligation to come embrace you.”
Khoury’s girlfriend of seven years, Shani Yashar, wept as she spoke. “Love of my life, my heart’s love, my heart. You are a true hero, courageous, a lion like the tattoo on your body. You loved lions. To enter the fire without fear in the eyes,” she said. “I was always proud of you, you are my Amir, my officer. Now you are everyone’s Amir. All the people of Israel thank you. I thank you.”
“You pledged you would never leave me, that we would marry and have children,” Yashar continued. “I wanted children who were beautiful like you. You promised that nothing would separate us. We overcame every obstacle, but this time we did not overcome, terror overcame us. We said that we are a power together. You promised to take care of yourself, but I knew you would be the first to leap into the fire and defend [others].”
Omer Bar-Lev, Israel’s Minister of Public Security praised the bravery of Khoury and his partner, whose actions during the attack were shown in body camera footage released by Israeli police on Wednesday.
“From my operational experience, this kind of determination by two lone officers, without commanders and officers around them, who hear distant gunfire, cover the distance quickly, and don’t know how many terrorists we are talking about … this is a rare courageousness,” Bar-Lev said.
The other victims killed on Tuesday were 29-year-old Rabbi Avishai Yehezkel, who was walking his two-year-old son in his stroller at the time of the attack; Yaakov Shalom, 36, a father of five who was driving home; and Victor Sorokopot, 32, and Dimitri Mitrik, 24, two Ukrainian nationals who were sitting outside a grocery store when the terrorist opened fire.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett declared Khoury a “hero of Israel” who died after he “stormed forward and saved the lives of others.”
שנפל בפיגוע בבני ברק כשהסתער קדימה והציל חיי אחרים,
מובא כעת למנוחות.
יהי זכרו ברוך. pic.twitter.com/2KpUK3bufd
— Naftali Bennett בנט (@naftalibennett) March 31, 2022
Father Joseph Mata, Archbishop of the Greek Catholic Church, who heads the community in Israel, called it a “sad day,” as reported by Israeli public broadcaster Kan.
“We have lost good people, courageous ones who sacrificed their lives for the security of the citizens of Israel,” Mata said at the funeral. “We are with the state in order to cut down this violence from our community and to put the people who deal in it in prison.”