In recognition of the life-saving work carried out by security guards around the country, sometimes at the expense of their own lives, the State of Israel will honor one of their number tomorrow night at the Independence Day torch-lighting ceremony.
In the past two weeks alone, one guard - Alexander Kostiuk - was killed while preventing a suicide bomber from entering the Kfar Sava train station, and another guard was seriously wounded while doing the same in front of Mike's Place in Tel Aviv. Just over a month ago, Gil Kuperman (Gil Yeshaya ben Aviva) was seriously wounded while preventing a suicide bomber from killing anyone in Netanya; his condition is now reported to be much improved, and he has been transferred to a rehabilitation ward in Hadassah Ein Karem Hospital in Jerusalem.
Another security guard, 73-year-old Leonid (Lazar ben Rachel; his last name was not publicized) is still unconscious after he was assaulted at his post in late February. He was a guard at the Atarot industrial area in northern Jerusalem, bordering on several Arab-populated areas.
Eish-Kodesh Gilmore, 25, became the 14th victim of the Oslo War in Oct. 2000 when he was killed while guarding an office in eastern Jerusalem. In March 2002, Chaim Smadar, 55, was killed while guarding a southern Jerusalem supermarket, and in Jan. 2002, Avi Yazdi, 25, was the first of six victims when a terrorist shot him as he was guarding a hall in Hadera during a Bat Mitzvah celebration. Last November, Julio Magre, 51, a new immigrant from Argentina, paid with his life when he bodily prevented a suicide terrorist from entering a crowded mall in Kfar Sava.
On the other hand, some guards have managed to save lives without giving up their own, such as Eli Federman who shot and killed an approaching terrorist in Tel Aviv a year ago, and Mikhail Sarkisov, who helped pin down a terrorist near the American Embassy last October.
Another torch-lighter will be the founder of Zaka Emergency Service, Yehuda Meshi-Zahav. This is considered a first, in that Meshi-Zahav stems from an anti-Zionist hareidi group, yet he has agreed to declare that he "is honored to light this torch for the glory of the State of Israel." Zaka responds to terrorist attacks, car accidents and the like, ensuring burial for all human remains in complete accordance with Jewish law. Zaka also deals with non-Jewish victims of terror attacks, helping to accommodate other religious customs when necessary.