Forty-five police officers and six civilians were honored this week with medals and citations for demonstrating extraordinary bravery during the past year’s wave of terrorism.
In a ceremony held at the Police Academy in Beit Shemesh attended by President Reuven Rivlin, Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan and Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh, the elite YAMAM unit also received citations for operations against terrorism in the last two years.
Among the citizens who were decorated was Rabbi Nehemia Lavi who was killed in a stabbing attack in Jerusalem’s Old City in October 2015. His widow and children accepted the Civil Courage Medal on his behalf.
According to the police statement, “While at home, the Rabbi heard the cries of a woman outside and knowing the dangers and hostile environment outside, went out anyway, where he fought the terrorist with all his strength. Unfortunately, the terrorist managed to stab the Rabbi and murdered him.”
Amichai, the rabbi’s brother, told the audience, “This coming Sunday we will go to Nehemia’s grave to mark a year since his passing. We think the medal doesn’t belong just to Nehemia, but to all the people of Israel, who stood firm against the enemy.”
Yifat Ben Ari, the widow of Ofer Ben Ari, also accepted the Civil Courage Medal on behalf of her husband who was killed accidentally by police fire in the course of a terrorist attack at the Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem in 2015, when he left his car to help wounded civilians.
At the ceremony, his widow said, “Ofer was a man of peace and was an endless giver. He was a proud father. Even on his last day he showed love, courage and sacrifice. I was privileged to live by his side.”
During the course of the ceremony, the Medal of Distinguished Service was given to Hadar Cohen, a border policewoman who was killed this February at the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem. According to the statement accompanying the citation, “Hadar recognized what was happening, loaded her weapon and opened fire on two terrorists. She was surprised by a third terrorist she didn’t see, who shot and killed her.”
In his remarks, Minister Erdan noted the dedication of officers and civilians. “Time and time again, police officers and civilians neutralized terrorists and saved lives. The first instinct in a situation such as this is to run and save one’s self, but not here, not in Israel. When you hear about people who risked their lives to save people they don’t even know, it gives strength. It is mutual responsibility.”
Police Commissioner Alsheikh added, “This wave of terrorism brought a record of security challenges to the police. Many attacks have been prevented by the vigilance of officers. The operations and activities of the police have saved many lives and that is the job of police.”