Thousands attend funeral of policeman who died defending worshipers in synagogue attack

Police chief Danino eulogized Zidan Saif at his funeral on Wednesday, saying that the officer “ran into the heart of the murderous inferno, without fear."

Funeral of Zidan Saif (photo credit: ISRAEL POLICE)
Funeral of Zidan Saif
(photo credit: ISRAEL POLICE)
Loved ones, neighbors, politicians, religious leaders and thousands of well-wishers from across the country made their way to the village of Yanuh in the Galilee on Wednesday, to honor Zidan Saif, the Druse policeman who died of a gunshot wound sustained at the scene of the terrorist attack at a Jerusalem synagogue.

The funeral was attended by President Reuven Rivlin, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, National Police Commissioner Insp.- Gen. Yochanan Danino, and leaders from Israel’s Druse community.Aharonovitch said in his eulogy that “we are burying a hero of the Israel Police, who laid down his own body to protect the worshipers at the synagogue in Har Nof.”“Zidan was there first and operated with courage. Without hesitation he charged inside, in the face of the horrors there. He followed the principles of the Israel Police and did what is expected of a courageous warrior.”The minister added “his heroism cost him his life, but saved the lives of others.Zidan is a source of pride for his family, for the Druse community and for the police and the people of Israel.”President Reuven Rivlin said the fallen officer “was one of the noble sons of the state.”“Without doubt or hesitation, he did what had to be done,” he added, praising his conduct as an officer and calling him “one of the first guardians of Jerusalem.”“He was one of the first to arrive at the scene of the massacre, one of the first to stand in the line of fire, one of the first to stand against hatred and hostility... He stood fearlessly against the terrorists and blocked the assault with his body and sacrificed his soul to defend the worshipers.”Spiritual leader of the Druse community in Israel Sheikh Moafaq Tarif was also present on Wednesday, and said the Druse “pay a heavy price in the blood of our sons but we will continue to defend our country.”He also called on the politicians, police and well-wishers present to work to calm tensions in Jerusalem and that “we cannot allow extremists to overcome reason and tolerance.”He also referenced the death just two weeks earlier of Jidan Assad, 38, a Border Police officer from the Druse village of Beit Jaan, who was killed in an attack by a Palestinian at a light rail station in east Jerusalem.“The Druse people is going through a difficult time, full of sadness and pride. In the past two weeks we’ve lost two of our precious sons who fell defending the country. The entire Druse people bow our heads together with the families of those killed in the terrible massacre yesterday and hope for safer, quieter days.”Police chief Danino eulogized Saif, saying that the officer “ran into the heart of the murderous inferno, without fear, without concern” and that he “endangered himself for the security of the citizens of Israel.”Danino credited Saif for stopping the rampage and for saving the lives of other potential victims.“The people of Israel owe Zidan a great debt... to this man and this great officer – to remember his nobility, his character, his heroism and his courage.”The funeral was also attended by haredim (ultra-Orthodox) from Jerusalem and beyond who organized buses to take them to the Galilee village to pay their respects to the officer who risked his life and ultimately died to stop Tuesday’s attack.Saif, 30, left behind a wife and a four-month-old daughter.Saif enlisted in the police in April 2011 and served as a traffic patrol cop in the Jerusalem District. After his death Tuesday night at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem he was promoted to the rank of sergeant.