French soldiers leave the Radisson hotel in Bamako, Mali, Nov 20.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Shmuel (Sammy) Benalal (60) was the Israeli killed in the Mali terror attack Friday, the Foreign Ministry announced Saturday afternoon.
Born in Venezuela, Benalal, made aliya as a youth and later settled with his wife, Flori and three children, Asher, Avi and Netanel, in Tzur Hadassah near Jerusalem.
"We are shocked and hurting. We hope that all the relevant actors are working with all the means to bring him home to us as soon as possible," his family said in a statement.
Benalal had dedicated his life to promoting education in Israel and around the world. He was in Mali for work as a consultant on education to the government.
He served as the CEO of Telos Group Ltd., a private consulting firm that specializes in international development of education, and was senior faculty member at the Mandel Leadership Institute.
Students from the Mandel Institute took to Facebook Saturday night to honor their former teacher and mentor.
"Shmuel was one of my mentors at the Mandel Institute. He was an amazing man. Smart, kind, honest. A mentor that knew how to help in the right places and also did not spare criticism where necessary. And he terribly loved to sing. A great man with a big smile that I will never forget,” wrote one of his students.
The Mandel Institute also released a statement and said it "bowed its head" in honor of Benalal and sent condolences to his family.
According to the Institute, Benalal had more than 20 years of experience in international development projects including with the World Bank, European Union, USAID, UNESCO and UNICEF as well as serving as a senior consultant to governments in Eastern Europe, Latin America and Southeast Asia.
He specialized in planning, decentralization, management, institutional development and educational leadership training.
Benalal also assisted Jewish communities around the world and previously served as principal of the Tarbut Jewish School in Mexico He was also an academic advisor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
The Foreign Ministry said that one Israeli was rescued in the aftermath of the attack.
Friday's assault on the Radisson Blu hotel came a week after militants killed 130 people in a spate of gun and bomb attacks in Paris claimed by Islamic State. France on Friday extended a state of emergency until February as police pursued raids and investigations, with over 250 people detained.
The bloodshed in Mali, a former French colony, was the latest sign of the problems faced by French troops and UN peacekeepers in restoring security in a West African state that has battled rebels and militants in its desert north for years.
The assault on the Radisson Blu hotel, claimed by jihadist groups Al Mourabitoun and al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), ended when Malian commandos stormed the building and rescued 170 people, many of them foreigners.
President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita said two militants were killed in the commando operation.Reuters contributed to this report.