Haifa Police Commander Ahuva Tomer, 52, died this morning from wounds she suffered in the line of duty during the catastrophic fire in the Carmel.
She suffered burns over 90% of her body, and though doctors fought valiantly to save her life, and even noted a slight improvement in her condition yesterday, the situation worsened overnight and she succumbed this morning. She is the 43rd victim of the fire, which claimed 36 Prison Service cadets; two other cadets are alive but in critical condition.
Tomer was caught by the flames after she insisted on following the ill-fated bus carrying the cadets into the fire. Channel Ten reporter Eli Levy was apparently the last one to speak with her in person (aside from deceased police commander Itzik Melina, who was with her in the car). After expressing concern for the mothers and children waiting behind, Tomer told Levy that she was headed towards the fire to help out – despite warnings by her underlings not to do so.
Expressions of sorrow and praise for Tomer began streaming in immediately after news of her death became known. Public Security Minister Yitzchak Aharonovitch said, “Ahuva was a true example of a woman of valor, a true fighter, and a valued commander in the Israel Police.”
Police Commissioner Dudu Cohen said, “Ahuva, our friend, widely-praised commander, courageous woman of iron who overcame many difficult tests, lived and died as a heroine. The entire Israel Police family is shocked and hurting today.”
Tomer made history when she became the first woman to head an Israeli police station – Nahariya, in 1997 – and again in 2009 when she was named to head Israel’s largest municipal police district, Haifa. In between, she successfully fought a six-year legal battle on charges of taking money illegally; the judge who vindicated her sharply criticized the internal police prosecution for not having sufficiently studied the facts. Tomer then decided to rejoin the police, serving as Deputy Commissioner of Haifa during the Second Lebanon War, and was said to be a future candidate for National Police Commissioner.
Ahuva Tomer will be buried at 3 PM today in Haifa. Maccabi Haifa soccer players will wear black armbands in her memory during today’s game with the team from Acco.