Hundreds of people gathered Thursday afternoon for the funeral of Hadar Cohen, a border policewoman who was killed by Palestinian attackers in a stabbing and shooting attack outside Jerusalem’s Old City a day earlier.
Police said the 19-year-old, who was shot in the head by one of the Palestinian gunmen, managed to return fire before losing consciousness, helping to thwart a potentially worse attack by the three assailants.
Joined by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Israel Police Chief Roni Alsheich at the funeral, in the military cemetery in Yehud outside Tel Aviv, friends and family praised Cohen’s heroism.
Also present was Ravit Mirilashvili, a Border Police colleague of Cohen’s who was seriously injured in the attack, and who came to the funeral from the hospital.
Cohen’s father, Ofer, eulogized his daughter, saying: “My beloved Hadar, my dearest daughter who was more beloved to me than anything. How am I supposed to say goodbye to you now?”
“Everyone says you were a hero, a true hero, who saved so many people with your body and soul. But no one truly knows you, my Hadar, your warmth,” he said, after reciting the Kaddish at his daughter’s grave.
“I’m proud of you. I’m proud of you and salute you,” he said.
Cohen’s sister Mor said she always looked up to Hadar as her role model.
“Yesterday you blocked those horrible terrorists with your own body,” Mor said. “How much longer will we endure this senseless hatred? I love you, my dear sister. Everyone is so proud of you.
“We will meet again, and when we do, I will give you a big hug, like I’ve never hugged you before.
“Our hero, please watch over us from above,” she said tearfully.
Hadar’s cousin Ofri said Hadar had always wanted to join the Border Police for her mandatory service, and noted that “she saved her friends by immediately pulling the trigger. We take comfort in knowing she died a hero.”
One of Hadar’s aunts, Zehavit Cohen, described her as a “sweet and amazing girl.” She recalled a conversation she had with her niece on the day she enlisted in the Israel Defense Forces. “I told her, ‘Don’t worry, you’re larger than life,'” she said.
“She was a hero and now she isn’t here with us anymore,” she added.
Erdan called Cohen “inspiring” and “a great hero.” Hailing her bravery, the public security minister remarked that her actions “most certainly saved the lives of your friends.”
“To the Cohen family, no words can bring you any comfort at this time,” Alsheich, the Israel Police chief, said. “We cannot bring Hadar back, but we are all here to embrace you with warmth and love.”
“I salute you on behalf of the people of Israel,” he added.
Cohen was drafted into the Border Police two months ago, and was still in training as she patrolled the area outside the Old City on Wednesday. Her relative inexperience has prompted some criticism of the IDF, since she was deployed at Damascus Gate, one of the main hotspots of Palestinian terrorism in recent months.
She was part of a three-person squad that spotted three Palestinians behaving in a suspicious manner and asked to see their identification papers. As one attacker withdrew his ID card, the others opened fire and pulled out knives to attack the officers. The three were shot dead by officers at the scene.