“He’s from another people, but we are brothers. He fought for us. We are obligated to come [to his funeral].” – Hanan Rubin, local orthodox Jews from Bnei Brak
Thousands of people, including bus-loads of ultra-orthodox Jews, attended the funeral of Israeli police officer, Amir Khoury, a Christian Arab described as the “hero of Israel”. Amir rushed to the scene of the terror attack in Bnei Brak on Thursday, stopped the killing, but paid with his life.
Family, friends, and crowds of people who had never met Amir paid their last respects. Many of those who gathered were Khoury’s police comrades, but there was also a large presence from Bnei Brak’s ultra-Orthodox community.
Led by a priest, covered by an Israeli flag, and topped with a flower arrangement in the shape of a cross, the casket of Christian Arab Israeli police officer Amir Khoury, who was killed responding a terror attack in Bnei Brak on Tuesday, is brought to burial outside Nazareth. pic.twitter.com/2tSIGcuw0H
— Avi Mayer (@AviMayer) March 31, 2022
“It can’t be that he’s inside. It can’t be,” said Shani Yashar, Khoury’s fiancée, weeping as she helped bear Khoury’s casket alongside an honor guard of Israeli police officers from his unit.
“Love of my life,” Yashar said in a heartbroken eulogy at the graveside, in the city’s military cemetery. “You are a true hero. You walked into the fire without an iota of fear… Only you had that courage…
“Rest in peace, my hero of Israel. Hero of the whole people of Israel,” she cried. “All of Israel gives you its thanks. I don’t want them to thank you. But you deserve it.”
“The eye tears-up, the heart aches, and the brain cannot believe that we will never see you again,” wailed his father Jeries, himself a former policeman.
After opening prayers read by a Greek Orthodox priest, Khoury’s casket, draped with the flag of Israel, was interred.
What an amazing photo. This coffin is draped with a Star of David AND a cross. It’s the funeral of Amir Khoury, an Arab Israeli policeman and a Christian. This hero was killed by a Palestinian terrorist while saving the lives of his fellow Israeli citizens. BDE pic.twitter.com/wsUmprXSTD
— ShipofTheseus (@JewishSpaceLazr) April 1, 2022
Buses had ferried ultra-Orthodox Israelis from Bnei Brak to the funeral. One of the buses displayed a message: “Amir Khoury, hero of Israel.”
Around 200 residents of Bnei Brak arrived, from “the whole Haredi spectrum,” said Hanan Rubin, who helped organize the buses.
“He gave his life for others,” said Yaakov, an ultra-Orthodox Bnei Brak resident interviewed on Channel 13 en route to Khoury’s funeral. “He’s from another people, but we are brothers. He fought for us. We are obligated to come [to his funeral]. There is no other possibility.”
“In a small country like ours, personal pain quickly becomes one shared by many, by all the citizens of Israel,” Public Security Minister Omar Barlev told the crowd. “We will not forget Amir. May his memory be a blessing.”
A bus prepares to leave the largely Orthodox Jewish city of Bnei Brak to take residents to the funeral of Amir Khoury, the Arab Israeli policeman killed responding to the terror attack in the city Tuesday.
The display reads "Amir Khoury, hero of Israel."pic.twitter.com/WhSKTwyLNy
— Avi Mayer (@AviMayer) March 31, 2022
Rubin, a former Jerusalem city council member, said bringing ultra-Orthodox Israelis to a Christian funeral brought its own complications.
“But they came. They found a way to be a part of this partnership,” Rubin said.
“The response was extraordinary. So many people reached out and wanted to take part and come,” Rubin said in a phone call to Times of Israel.
Khoury served on the Bnei Brak police station’s motorcyclist responders team. Born to a family of cops — his father Jeries served for 32 years in the police — Khoury joined the police at the age of 20 after leaving dental school.
On Tuesday night, Khoury was shot and killed when he arrived on the scene of a terror attack in Bnei Brak. He and another cop directly engaged terrorist Diaa Hamarsheh, shooting him dead and preventing him from continuing his shooting spree through the Tel Aviv suburb, but Khoury sustained fatal injuries in the firefight.
Hamarsheh killed four other people before he was taken down by the two cops: Two Israelis, 29-year-old Avishai Yehezkel and 36-year-old Yaakov Shalom, and two Ukrainian nationals who had been in Israel for years, 32-year-old Victor Sorokopot and 24-year-old Dimitri Mitrik.