President Isaac Herzog and First Lady Michal Herzog welcomed to the President’s Residence today servicemen from the company of the late Barel Hadaria Shmueli, who was wounded in a shooting incident on the Gaza border last month and died of his injuries, as well as the commander of the Border Police, Deputy Commissioner Amir Cohen. The servicemen all serve in a Mista’arvim unit in the southern division of the Border Police, which operates in Israel’s south and along its southern borders.
The event was also attended by the singer Adir Getz. While Barel was fighting for his life in hospital, his commander sent Getz a video clip of Barel performing one of his songs, “Just As She Is,” two months before his fatal injury. The artist posted the clip on his social media at the time and wrote that he hoped to perform the song with Barel. Today, after Barel’s death, he came to the President’s Residence to perform the same song in Barel’s memory, together with Barel’s fellow servicemen.
R., a friend of the late Barel Hadaria Shmueli, who served with him in the same team, told President Herzog about Barel and their special relationship: “I served for about a year with Barel in the same team, a year in which we slept, ate, laughed, and lived side-by-side and participated together in many operational activities, which I won’t elaborate on. For me and my friends in the team, Barel was a role model. We compared ourselves to him on everything and hoped to be like him. When Barel was fighting for his life in the emergency room at Soroka Hospital, the medical team was shocked by the number of mattresses covering the floor because of all the friends who wanted to be there in those difficult moments and to be by his side when he woke up.”
President Herzog and the First Lady were moved by the musical performance and R.’s tribute. President Herzog offered his condolences to the servicemen in Barel’s company and said: “What you are doing is extremely meaningful, and you should be very proud of yourselves. This should be the feeling that sticks with you throughout your service and the rest of your lives. I think that the painful memory that you are bearing about a soldier who is no longer with us will stay with you for the rest of your lives and will give you a sense of proportion and meaning in life. You will bear his memory and pass it down the generations, and there is something very comforting about that.
“I want to wish you only peace and quiet. May you fulfil your missions in the best way possible, and may your unit succeed in any task it is given in order to protect our country. May we all have a ‘sukkah of peace,’ and may this sukkah of peace remind us that we are all human—both the people under your command, and also those you interact with. We are all human in the end.”
First Lady Michal Herzog added: “Like the whole People of Israel, I too watched Barel singing Adir Getz’s song, and I am grateful to Adir for coming here, and I think he moved us all. On behalf of all mothers, as the mother of a combat soldier, I am looking at you and I know how much your team is your family. I know that Barel’s passing has left a hole in this family, and want to give you strength and wish you only days of peace.”
The commander of the Border Police, Deputy Commissioner Amir Cohen, thanked the President and the First Lady for hosting this event and said: “By inviting us, the servicemen of the Border Police, to your home, we can see the historic link between the Border Police and the Herzog family. The relationship between the Border Police and your father, the late Chaim Herzog, began when he served as the commander of the Jerusalem district and was the first to deploy Border Police forces here in Jerusalem and to give them operational responsibility along the old municipal border in Jerusalem. With the liberation of Jerusalem, as the military governor, your father saw the Border Police as a unique operational force, and he entrusted it with the mission of security in Judea and Samaria—a mission that continues into the present. The sixth President was also the man who in 1998 planted the flag at the police heritage center, to commemorate fallen soldiers from the Border Police.”