Four days after suffering burns over 90 percent of her body when she rushed to
save lives of prison wardens in a burning bus, Haifa Police chief Asst.-Cmdr.
Ahuva Tomer died on Monday morning at the city’s Rambam Medical Center and was
buried at the Haifa military cemetery in the afternoon.
funeral, hundreds of mourners from the Israel Police, local city leaders,
politicians and members of the public stood around Tomer’s life partner, Danny
Rozen, as her flag-draped coffin was led into a grave before a row of police
After four days of fire raging through the North, light
rain finally fell on Monday, as Tomer’s comrades, family and friends wept at her
Israel Police Insp.-Gen. David Cohen received word of Tomer’s
death while traveling the South to visit seven Prisons Service families who lost
loved ones in the fire.
“Ahuva, our friend, distinguished commander, a
brave and iron woman who stood the difficult test of fire and rose to the
challenge, lived and died as a hero. The whole of the Israel Police family is
stunned with grief, and is hurting today,” Cohen said.
funeral, Cohen, who posthumously promoted Tomer to lieutenant-commander, said
she had “waited to ensure the fires were out before leaving us.”
are difficult days,” he continued. “We have lost the best of our people and
commanders, having also buried Asst.-Cmdr. Lior Boker and Dep.-Cmdr. Itzik
Melina. All three of them reported for their missions on Thursday, as they have
many times in the past, knowing the dangers, but also knowing thei
responsibilities as police officers, and they entered the line of
Cohen described Tomer as a “woman who grew strong during 29 years
of police service,” and as a natural leader, as well as an esteemed commander
who led police efforts in Haifa to lower crime rates and deal with
“I salute her, and embrace her family, who are now a part of
us,” he said.
Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav delivered a tearful eulogy at
Tomer’s funeral, saying, “It’s unbelievable that I’m standing here, saying
good-bye... You were always on the front line, you always pushed yourself to the
scene of the emergency, because you were a commander in every bone of your body.
You were the best of the police.”
Yahav added, “You promised me many
times that you would move to Haifa. I didn’t picture this would be the
Born in Russia in 1957, Tomer came on aliya with her family at the
age of two on a plane from Moscow in which prime minister David Ben-Gurion flew
immigrants to Israel. She was a resident of Moshav Manot, near
“Unfortunately, Tomer did not return from this mission,” said her
commanding officer, Asst.-Cmdr. Ronni Atiya. Northern District head Cmdr. Shimon
Koren struggled to speak during the funeral, saying, “You fell while risking
your life to save others.”
President Shimon Peres was also among those
who eulogized Tomer on Monday, calling her “the best of the best” and “a symbol
She was an example to all, he declared, adding that she had
never had to raise her voice to the 550 police under her command.
was loved and admired, and she devoted her life to Israel,” he
Rozen had asked the Maccabi Haifa soccer team not to cancel a match
scheduled for Monday evening, saying that Tomer, who had secured many soccer
games in the city, would have wanted the fixture to go ahead.
captured on camera minutes before the tragedy, driving together with an officer
toward the blaze, telling reporters that she was on her way to check firsthand
what the situation was in the Carmel forest. Seconds before she sped off in her
police car, Tomer expressed concern for mothers and children in nearby Kibbutz
Beit Oren, who were being evacuated.
The Rambam Medical Center burns unit
tried desperately to save her over the past few days.
Tomer had nearly
been clinically dead when evacuated to Carmel Medical Center, where emergency
room staff kept her alive and then transferred her to the Rambam burns unit, but
survival after being so extensively burned is extremely rare.
close to death during all her time there.
Rambam deputy directorgeneral
Dr. Yaron Bar-El informed reporters and expressed the hospital’s deep sorrow
over Tomer’s passing.
He had known her as a police officer who often came
to the hospital for various incidents and cooperative events.
“She was an
impressive figure with great abilities and loved by all,” he said.
Yaron Bar-Lavie, chief of the intensive care unit, said he had treated many
police personnel in the past, but was moved by the abundant love and honor that
Tomer was being shown by her colleagues.
“The special circumstances of
her injury testify to her courage,” Bar-Lavie said. “We express our condolences
to her family and our sorrow to the Israel Police for their great
loss.”Greer Fay Cashman contributed to this report.