Police officer Amir Khoury, who was slain while responding to a terror attack in Bnei Brak in March, was honored as a “hero of Israel” as the country marked the start of Memorial Day Tuesday.
Khoury, 32. was shot as he reached the Bnei Brak alley where terrorist Diaa Hamarsheh was firing on passersby on March 29. Amir “died a hero,” his fiancée Shani Yashar said as she visited the site where he was killed, in footage aired Tuesday by Channel 13 news.
According to an eyewitness speaking to the channel, Hamarsheh had been aiming his rifle at a mother and her baby standing at a window in a nearby apartment when Khoury and his partner arrived on the scene.
The terrorist shifted his aim to open fire at the cops instead, hitting Khoury. Moments later, Hamarsheh was shot and killed by the second officer, whose name cannot be published.
“He saved one life, which is the whole world,” Yashar said. “And I’m sure there are many others who he saved.”
Amir Khoury’s name is now last on the list of 24,068 members of security forces killed defending Israel or its pre-state Jewish communities, honored each year on the day before Independence Day.
“Amir Khoury sacrificed his life and jumped into the line of fire to save lives, together with his comrade-in-arms,” Bnei Brak Mayor Avraham Rubinstein said at the opening of the city’s Memorial Day commemoration Tuesday night. “Amir’s memory is etched in our hearts and will never be erased.”
ראש עיריית בני ברק: רב סמל מתקדם אמיר חורי ז״ל חירף את נפשו וזינק לקו האש בכדי להציל חיים, יחד עם חברו לנשק ע׳.
אמיר תושב הגליל נפל בקרב בבני ברק בזמן שהציל רבים ממוות.
זכרו של אמיר חרוט בלבנו ולעולם לא יימחק. pic.twitter.com/s3mbXROJM4
— ישי כהן (@ishaycoen) May 3, 2022
As Yashar visited the site of her fiancé’s last moments, where a makeshift memorial now stands, children and others in the ultra-Orthodox Tel Aviv suburb gathered to recite psalms in memory of Khoury, a Christian Arab from the northern city of Nof Hagalil.
“Amir is proud of himself, I am proud of him for what he did,” Yashar said. “It’s painful for me. But it isn’t painful for him.”
In Nof Hagalil, Khoury’s father Jeris donned a black skullcap and lit a memorial beacon in his son’s memory at the city’s main Memorial Day ceremony.
“Amir loved this country,” Jeris said at the commemoration. “He was proud to have been merited with protecting its citizens.”
Jeris, a former cop, was on hand last week as members of the Khoury family visited the Bnei Brak alleyway with police brass, who walked them through Amir’s last moments.
“Amir was one of those types of cops that we like to see in the force,” Police Commissioner Yaakov Shabtai told the family in footage aired by Channel 12 news Tuesday night. “A fighter, courageous, just a quality guy.”
Hamarsheh killed four other people beside Khoury 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.
At a Knesset ceremony Tuesday, Khoury’s mother Samia thanked the nation for its outpouring of grief and support.
“Everyone calls you a hero because you really are heroic and courageous. Not thinking about yourself, the only thing that is important to you is saving lives,” she said, addressing her late son.
“Every night I imagine you opening the door and coming in the house like always. Every tiny noise in the night I think it’s you coming up the stairs from the parking lot into the house.”
“Amir loved life, loved to go out with his friends and partner and everyone loved him,” she added. “I call you an angel because you really are an angel. If every mom had a son like Amir, peace and fraternity would reign across the world.”