Yamam officers (archive)
Yamam officers (archive) Flash 90

Tragedy struck on Monday at the Yamam, the civilian counter-terrorism unit of the Israel police, as the unit’s doctor, Superintendent Gavriel Botnero, died unexpectedly of a heart attack. He was 45 years old.

Botnero was laid to rest on Monday evening at the military cemetery in the northern Israeli city of Nahariya. He is survived by two daughters.

The funeral was attended by Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino, Border Police Commander Amos Yaakov, former commanders of the Yamam, other members of the unit, as well as Botnero’s family and friends.

The commander of the Yamam, Commander S., eulogized Botnero and said, "You've left behind an entire generation of paramedics and medics whom you educated and trained. Rest in peace. In the name of the officers, fighters and the entire unit, I say goodbye to you and salute you.”

Two years ago, a member of the Yamam, Michael Cohen, passed away after serving in the unit for 20 years. Cohen was the personal bodyguard of the last three police commissioners.

During the last Memorial Day, Israelis were moved by a picture distributed by Cohen’s family and in which his young son, Lahav, is shown lying on his father's grave tightly hugging the headstone.

In 2011, another Yamam officer, Pascal Avrahami, was killed in a combined terror attack along the Israel-Egypt border. Avrahami, who was considered a legendary sniper in the unit, was killed by terrorists as then-Defense Minister Ehud Barak Barak and IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz were holding a briefing for journalists nearby.

Four-year-old Lahav hugs his father's headstone.
Four-year-old Lahav hugs his father's headstone. Courtesy of the family