President Reuven Rivlin will inaugurate a special civilian commendation for exemplary behavior to honor a man who died as he saved a mother and her three children from drowning in a lake, the president’s office said in a statement Monday.
The new Civil Medal of Distinguished Service will be given to the family of Michael Ben Zikri, who lost his life on Friday in the course of his rescue efforts at the lake at the edge of Nahal Shikma, near Ashkelon.
The medal is to be awarded “to civilians to commend exemplary behavior in Israeli society,” the statement said.
Ben Zikri’s family has been invited to the President’s House in Jerusalem, where they will receive the medal. In addition to Ben Zikri’s wife Cheli and their children, an invitation was sent to the family of the woman and her children, the al-Karem family from the Bedouin town of Hura.
Ben Zikri helped rescue the woman, 40, and her three children, 14, 10 and 7.
Ben Zikri’s brother-in-law told Channel 13 on Friday that Michael was with his wife when he saw the four family members in distress and rushed to try to save them.
An MDA paramedic said at the time that a rescue team that arrived at the scene learned from onlookers that Ben Zikri was missing as they treated the family of four.
Ben Zikri was found after a short search with no signs of life. He was laid to rest on Sunday in Ashdod, the city where he lived.
The four people he saved were in good condition.