Members of the family of Hadar Cohen, the Israeli Border Police officer who was killed in a Palestinian terrorist attack in Jerusalem on Wednesday, gathered at their home in Or Yehuda on Thursday to mourn their loss.
Her aunt, Zehavit Cohen, expressed her dismay that the 19-year-old rookie policewoman who had not yet completed basic training was posted at Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate—a spot notorious for being the site of numerous terrorist attacks.
“After a mere two months of service, I think it was too much,” Zehavit said. “She was still in basic training and wasn’t familiar with the area. So they gave her a bulletproof vest. So what? They are still little children. To go out into the field after two months, I think it’s too much.”
“[Hadar] was a good girl,” she continued. “She was gorgeous. Whatever she wanted, she would say, ‘I will work at it and achieve it.’ Everyone loved her. She really wanted to enlist. She fought to enlist. She dreamed of being there. She told me, ‘Auntie, I’m having fun, I’m happy. It’s a little hard but we will fight and get through it.’ I told her, ‘You’re larger than life and you will get through it.’”
The Or Yehuda municipality ran an obituary on Wednesday saying, “The city of Or Yehuda is bowing its head over the murder of Cpl. Hadar Cohen, a resident of the city, in a heinous terrorist attack in Jerusalem this morning. We extend our condolences to the dear Cohen family. May you never know more sorrow.”
A number of Facebook pages were set up to honor Cohen’s memory, where users praised her actions during the attack.
“A great loss for the people of Israel,” one user wrote. “A true hero. Blessed be her memory.”
The surviving border policewoman who was wounded in the attack recounted the incident to Israel Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh from her hospital bed on Wednesday. She said, “We are here to protect civilians. That is why we enlisted and that is why we’re here. I have no doubt that Hadar, may she rest in peace, knew that, and that is why she behaved the way she did.”
Alsheikh replied, “We fight to protect civilians. The price is a painful one, but this is our duty. I have no doubt that the terrorist cell, having attacked with such a large arsenal of weapons, intended to carry out a mass-casualty attack. Your response, your efforts to make contact and your determination, undoubtedly prevented a much larger tragedy. I salute you.”
Cohen’s commander commented on the allegations that the two young policewomen were too green to be posted at such a dangerous spot, saying, “They were teamed up with a veteran border policeman who knows the area. They were trained to confront incidents like this. They reacted exactly the way they were expected to react, with determination.”
All three terrorists were killed in the course of the attack, one of them by Cohen.
Israeli officials also voiced their deep sorrow over Cohen’s death on Wednesday.
“May your hands be strengthened, keepers of Jerusalem’s walls,” President Reuven Rivlin said upon learning that Cohen was killed.
Rivlin said he spoke to the commander at the scene and “heard from him how the fighters’ alertness served as a protective wall for us.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote on his Facebook page, “Border policewoman Hadar Cohen was murdered today by terrorists. Hadar displayed great courage and determination, and she gave her life to save the lives of many others. We all grieve with her family.”
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan remarked that “thanks to the border policewomen’s resourcefulness and courage, a far larger attack was prevented today. Our way of life and our insistence on holding on to this land are being attacked by the murderous Islam. A nation whose sons and daughters include heroes like Hadar, may she rest in peace, will overcome the threat and defeat it.”
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat visited the scene and called on residents of the city to resume their daily routines while maintaining vigilance.
“We saw that willingness [by the border policewomen] to suspect and check was what made the initial contact, and they saved lives with their bodies,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Israeli Foreign Ministry slammed CBS News over its report on the Damascus Gate attack, which carried a headline reading, “3 Palestinians killed as daily violence grinds on.” Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon blasted the media outlet’s “gall” for focusing solely on the deaths of the Palestinians and ignoring the fact that they were terrorists. This was “unprecedented chutzpah, a slanted and false headline,” Nahshon said.
After the Foreign Ministry, as well as Israel’s National Information Directorate at the Prime Minister’s Office and Government Press Office, all contacted CBS, the headline was changed to “Israeli police kill 3 alleged Palestinian attackers.” It was later changed again, to “Palestinians kill Israeli officer, wound another before being killed.”