President Reuven Rivlin on Saturday hailed the courage and dedication of Hadas Malka, 23, the Border Police officer who was stabbed to death in a terror attack in Jerusalem on Friday evening.
“My heart is with the family of Hadas, the guard of the walls, during these difficult times of deep sorrow.” Rivlin said. “May her memory be a blessing.”
Malka was on patrol outside the Old City walls in Jerusalem when she was attacked on Sultan Suleiman Street near Damascus Gate on Friday evening. She was stabbed in the upper torso and transferred in critical condition to Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus in Jerusalem, where she underwent emergency surgery but later succumbed to her injuries.
She fought her attacker for several seconds while attempting to draw her weapon, according to a Border Police statement. She had been in a group of troops responding to an attack seconds earlier by two other Palestinian assailants who targeted troops with knives and an automatic weapon at the adjacent Zedekiah’s Cave. All three attackers were killed.
“I send consolation and embraces to her family and deeply thank all those who fought heroically and resolutely for the sake of the peace of our citizens,” Rivlin said.
Malka was being laid to rest at 12:30 a.m. Sunday morning in the southern city of Ashdod. She leaves behind parents and five siblings, three sisters and two brothers.
“The heart goes out to the brave warrior, who from her pictures seemed full of the joy of life, and of a love for the meaningful service she insisted on taking part in,” Rivlin said.
He also paid tribute to Israel’s security forces.
“The steadfastness of our forces enables us to continue to live here in Jerusalem and throughout the country, a life of security and routine in the face of the murderous forces of the terrorist organizations,” Rivlin added, vowing that Israel “will pursue all those who aid terrorism, wherever they may be.”
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman also praised Malha, who fought with her assailant as he was stabbing her, for the “determination and courage” with which she acted. She was “an inspiration to all of us,” he said.
Heartbroken friends on Saturday recalled how they heard about the attack and tried to message Malka, as they did every time there was an incident in Jerusalem where she served, but this time she did not reply.
“I woke up from a nap and my mother told me there had been an attack in Jerusalem. I said how can there have been an attack? She just sent us a message,” Nofar Sarusi told the Ynet news site.
“Every time there was an attack in Jerusalem I would SMS her to see if she was okay and she would answer,” Sarusi said. “Yesterday she simply didn’t answer.”
The friends spoke of how Malka had been in the navy, but wanted to be a combat soldier and transferred to the Border Police where she did the rest of her mandatory military service and then extended it 15 months ago and became an officer.
They also recounted how she was never afraid, despite all the attacks that have occurred in and near the Old City in Jerusalem, where she was on duty. “No one will come approach me … They won’t dare even come close to me,” she would tell them, according to Ynet.
Amit Azulai, a friend of Malka’s, told Channel 22 that Malka was “a real-life Wonder Woman… good-hearted and optimistic.”
Over the past 18 months the Old City, and the Damascus Gate area in particular, have seen several attacks by Palestinians, and in one case a Jordanian national.
Since September 2015, mainly Palestinian assailants have killed 43 Israelis, two visiting Americans, a Palestinian man and a British student, mainly in stabbing, shooting and vehicular attacks. In that time, some 250 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire, a majority of them attackers, according to authorities.
At least four more people were injured in the attacks, including another cop. They all sustained light to moderate wounds and were being treated in hospital.
The attack took place as Muslims were marking the end of the third Friday of the fasting month of Ramadan, during which tens of thousands of Palestinians from east Jerusalem and the West Bank attended prayers at the nearby Al-Aqsa mosque compound.