Peres calls fallen Haifa police chief 'a symbol of courage'

Dep.-Cmdr. Ahuva Tomer dies after being fatally injured in wild-fire when she raced to scene of Prison Service bus caught in flames.

December 6, 2010 10:28
3 minute read.
Haifa Police Asst.-Cmdr. Ahuva Tomer.

Haifa police commander 311. (photo credit: Channel 10 News)

Haifa Police Chief Dep.-Cmdr. Ahuva Tomer on Monday succumbed to her injuries sustained Thursday in the Carmel fire, bringing the death toll in the disaster to 42.

Tomer had been in critical condition since rushing into flames to check the condition of the dozens of Prisons Service cadets trapped in the deadly Carmel blaze on Thursday.

The flames are out, now come recovery, recriminations
Rabbi who survived Hizbullah fire among dead on bus

President Shimon Peres was among those who eulogized Tomer on Monday, calling her "the best of the best" and "a symbol of courage". She was an example to all, he declared. She never had to raise her voice to the 550 police under her command, Peres continued. "She was loved and admired, and she devoted her life to Israel."

"Aside from being a good mother, she was always a willing listener to others - not only to the men and women under her command, but also to prisoners. She paved her own path to success, and worked tirelessly to eradicate crime," the president added.

Also responding to news of Tomer's death, Police Insp.-Gen. David Cohen said Monday, "Ahuva our friend, decorated commander, brave and beloved iron woman, that stood through difficult tests of fire and prevailed, she lived and died as a hero." Cohen continued, "The entire Israel Police family is suffering with sadness and pain today."

Tomer was captured on camera minutes before the tragedy, driving together with a staff officer toward the blaze, telling reporters that she was on her way to check first-hand 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.

Tomer continued to issue commands over her field radio until she became trapped in the blaze, and the commands became urgent cries for assistance. By the time rescuers reached the senior commander, she was badly burned all over her body.

After being rushed to the hospital, medical teams spent two hours resuscitating her, then transferring her to the burn unit at Rambam.

In an era when senior police officers tend to reach the headlines for negative reasons, Tomer has consistently made headlines as a groundbreaker in the Israel Police.

In 1997, Tomer became the first woman commander of an Israel Police station, taking command of police in the northern city of Nahariya. In December 2006, Tomer became the first female district-level operations commander in the Israel Police, serving as operations commander in the Northern District. The Northern District is comparable to the Northern Command in the IDF, and no woman in the IDF or in the police had ever held such a high rank in the field of operational command.

Less than three years later, Tomer again made history when she was appointed to lead the massive Haifa Station and became the first woman to command a major police station, with over 500 police under her direct command.

Tomer tended to downplay her accomplishments, and shortly after her history-making appointment in 2006, she told The Jerusalem Post that she did not see the promotion as exceptional.

“I have frequently been the first woman to hold the position in almost all of the positions that I have held in the police,” she explained. “I don’t feel like I’m special. I do function in a predominantly male society, but I am an equal among equals and I try to be the best I can. But women need to understand that this is not just a question of equality of opportunity, but also equality of responsibility.”

The 53-year-old police commander joined the Israel Police in 1982 and served as a commander in the Haifa traffic division, operations officer in Haifa, operations officer of the northern district, head of the Haifa intelligence unit, chief of the Nahariya police station, deputy chief of Haifa police, division operations officer of the northern district, and most recently as Haifa police chief.

Greer Fay Cashman contributed to this report.

Related Content

August 31, 2014
Rioting resumes throughout east Jerusalem Saturday night