A year after terrorists carried out a massacre at a synagogue in Jerusalem, thousands of Israelis paid tribute Friday to Druze police officer Zidan Saif, killed as he tried to end the November 2014 attack.
Three thousand people turned out at Saif’s home town of Yanuh-Jat in the Galilee for a march to honor him, Israel’s Ynet website reported. Among the attendees were members of the Bnei Torah synagogue’s congregation, acting Israel Police Commissioner Bentzi Sau and other senior officers. Saif’s comrades also attended.
“We invited people from all over the country,” said one of the organizers from the town, “especially from Jerusalem — the ultra-Orthodox who have stood by our side throughout the past year and who also held ceremonies for [Saif], and so we wanted to remember those who died by his side at the synagogue.”
Participants in the march carried Israel flags and banners reading: “Together we will win.” The event concluded with speeches by members of the Saif family, including his widow, as well as by senior police officers.
“A shared fate has brought us here today, to march as one family to honor Zidan’s memory,” said Jerusalem police chief Moshe Edri. “Even in these tense times as the security situation becomes more grave … it is a duty and a right to come here today to share in this important event to remember our officer and our friend.”
Shortly after 7 a.m. on November 18, 2014, Uday and Ghassan Abu Jamal — cousins from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber — stormed the synagogue. Saif was one of the first to arrive on the scene in Har Nof as the two terrorists, armed with guns, axes and meat cleavers, attacked worshipers during morning prayer services at the Bnei Torah synagogue in the Har Nof neighborhood.
Rabbis Moshe Twersky, Kalman Levine and Avraham Shmuel Goldberg were killed inside the synagogue along with fellow worshiper Aryeh Kupinsky.
Saif fired at the terrorists from outside the building, playing a crucial role in ending the attack, before one of the terrorists ran out and shot him at close range. The terrorists were eventually killed in a shootout with police.
Saif was rushed to the hospital but later died of his wounds. He was posthumously decorated with the Medal of Distinguished Service.
Rabbi Haim Rothman, who was critically injured in the attack, died from his injuries last month.
Tamar Pileggi contributed to this report.