‘Salt of the earth’: Bereaved relatives mourn 19-year-old victims of Hadera shooting

Mother of Shirel Aboukrat says family immigrated in 2006 ‘for security’; his mother’s only son, Falah insisted on joining Border Police: ‘It feels like a bad dream,’ says teacher

Yazan Falah and Shirel Aboukrat, two Border Police officers killed in a terror attack in Hadera, are seen at their base near the West Bank settlement of Bet El, hours before they were killed on March 27, 2022. (Israel Police)
Yazan Falah and Shirel Aboukrat, two Border Police officers killed in a terror attack in Hadera, are seen at their base near the West Bank settlement of Bet El, hours before they were killed on March 27, 2022. (Israel Police)

Families and friends of the two Border Police officers killed in Sunday’s Hadera terror attack on Monday mourned the loss of the two 19-year-olds at the hands of terrorist gunmen.

Shirel Aboukrat’s family immigrated to Israel from France in 2006.

“We escaped France in pursuit of security and this is where she died, in our country. It doesn’t make any sense. I wanted to provide them with a good life,” Aboukrat’s mother Dvora told the Ynet news site.

Moshe, Aboukrat’s uncle, described her as a proud Zionist and a good student.

“She was full of spirit and had a big heart,” he told Army Radio. “She loved this country and was an excellent student. She achieved everything she set her mind to and was an excellent soldier. She really loved the Border Police.”

“We had everything in France,” he noted, but the family decided to immigrate as “we are very Zionist.”

“I guess this is our fate, living by the sword. I just hope the leaders at the top start making operational decisions and realize who we’re dealing with here,” he told Ynet.

Asked whether he had any complaints about the Israeli security services, Moshe said there is nothing to do when faced with lone-wolf terrorism.

“We have the best security services in the world,” he said, noting that real-time prevention is limited “when two brainwashed, highly extreme guys suddenly decide to get up and kill in the name of Islam or Islamic State.”

Despite the tragedy, he said, “we are strong. We will cope, we will overcome because we don’t have any other choice. We can’t let ourselves be weak. We won’t let them beat us. We’ll cry, we’ll mourn, it won’t be easy.”

Israeli Zaka Rescue and Recovery teams carry the body of a victim at the scene of shooting attack In Hadera, March 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Aboukrat had gone to Rigler High School in Netanya. On Monday the school said it had inaugurated a memorial in her honor.

The school’s principal described the shock felt by staff after learning of Aboukrat’s death.

“We still can’t believe it,” said Ori Cohen, according to Ynet. “Shirel dreamed of joining the Border Police and was overjoyed when she was told she’d been accepted. She hadn’t had the chance to collect her high school diploma. She was an excellent student,” he added.

Aboukrat’s funeral was to take place at the military cemetery in Netanya at 5:30 p.m.

The second victim of the attack was Yazan Falah, a resident of the Druze village of Kisra-Sumei in the Galilee, who joined the Border Police a year ago. He is survived by his parents and a stepbrother and -sister.

An only son to his mother, Falah insisted on joining the Border Police despite being exempt from combat service.

People who knew Falah described him as a gentle and funny person.

“He never hurt anyone,” an unnamed relative told Ynet, describing his death as “a great loss to the entire village.”

“It’s a very painful tragedy. We’ve lost an angel,” he said.

His uncle, Amal, told the Israel Hayom newspaper his nephew was a “shy and beloved young man, salt of the earth,” noting he would want to be remembered as “a quiet and pleasant person who helped everyone and loved everyone, humble and happy.”

Tamima Shitawi, Falah’s high school teacher, said: “The thing that most characterized him was his shining smile. He was an ambitious guy, an optimist who loved life.

“He didn’t miss any opportunity to travel, no matter where,” she said, noting that he too was an excellent student. “It feels like a bad dream.”

One of Falah’s cousins is professional Israeli soccer player Sari Falah of Bnei Sakhnin F.C., who told the Sports One website that the family was shattered by the tragedy.

“Our hearts are torn apart. The family is completely devastated. A 19-year-old kid is dead. It’s not easy, I hope we can overcome this,” he said, describing his cousin as “an amazing kid loved by everyone who never stopped smiling.” He added, “He died like a hero.”

Falah’s funeral was set to take place in his hometown at 4 p.m.

Earlier Monday, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett expressed his condolences to the mourning families.

“Our heart is broken by the deaths of Border Police officers Yazan Falah and Shirel Aboukrat, who fell while protecting civilians with their bodies from vile murderers. We will not forget their heroism. I wish a complete recovery to the wounded and send my deepest condolences to the families,” the Israeli premier said in a statement.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (L) visits the police station in Hadera, following a deadly terror attack in the northern city on March 27, 2022. (Israel Police)

“The soldiers fought with bravery,” a statement issued by the Border Police on Sunday night read. “We share the sorrow and embrace the families of the heroes Yazan and Shirel of blessed memory who defended the citizens with their bodies and saved many lives,” the statement added, calling them “highly motivated young fighters who gave up their lives for the security of the people of Israel.”

The two terrorists who committed the attack were believed to be supporters of the Islamic State group. The shooting came days after a deadly terror attack in the southern city of Beersheba, which was also committed by a man who attempted to join the jihadist group, raising concerns of further attacks inspired by the terrorist organization.

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