A Jewish Israeli man is being hailed as a hero after he died while rescuing a Bedouin woman and her three children who were drowning in a man-made lake on Friday.
President Reuven Rivlin will honor Michael Ben Zikri, 45, with a posthumous civilian award after his family ends the shiva, the traditional mourning period observed after one’s death. The award is the first of its kind and will be given to Israelis who, through their actions, inspire society.
Ben Zikri was swimming with his own family when he noticed the woman and her children — ages 14, 10 and 7 — drowning. His brother-in-law said Ben Zikri rushed into the water and managed to rescue them all before he was too exhausted to save himself.
Former Arab Knesset Member Taleb el-Sana attended Ben Zikri’s funeral and vowed to honor his memory by naming a main street after him in the Bedouin town of Lakiya.
“The entire Arab community, from the north to the south, each house, shares your pain,” he told Ben Zikri’s family.
“Today it’s hard to find a hero like this. The entire family apologizes for what happened,” a relative of the rescued family told Channel 13 news.
Many Bedouins, including the family rescued by Ben Zikri, attended the funeral.
Ben Zikri was hailed a hero in the Arab world after the Foreign Ministry shared his story on its social media accounts in Persian and Arabic. He was upheld as a symbol of co-existence.
“This is true humanitarianism,” wrote an Iraqi named Mirna. “There is no difference between humans, God has taught us to love one another.”
“Humanity has no religion, may he dwell in heaven and blessings come upon his families and loved ones for his noble act,” another person wrote.