Thursday, December 9, 2010

A woman of valour

Deputy Commander Ahuva Tomer (pictured), the 53-year-old Haifa police chief, was the highest-ranking woman in the Israel Police. Last Thursday she was travelling behind a busload of prison service officer cadets en route to help evacuate a prison threatened by the wildfires when, due to a sudden wind change, flames engulfed the bus and her car. That firestorm killed 42 people including 36 bus occupants. Deputy Commander Tomer sustained severe burns. During the four days she hovered between life and death, she was a national symbol in the fight against the ravaging fires. She succumbed on Monday – the day the fires were controlled [1]. Even after she was injured, she proved how much of a leader she is in her soul,’ said Israel Police Commissioner David Cohen. ‘She didn't leave us until she knew the fire was put out.’ Tomer was fatality number 42. Tomer, who was born in the USSR and migrated to Israel as a toddler, was a 28-year police veteran. In 1997 she made history by becoming the first woman to command a police station in Israel. In 2006 she became the first female district-level operations commander in the Israel Police – in the Northern District. In 2009 she made history again when appointed to command the Haifa police station. Last Thursday as the fire engulfed the trapped bus, Tomer could have backed her car to safety. Instead, she rushed forward attempting to rescue the trapped from the bus whilst by radio she continued to issue commands and then increasingly urgent calls for assistance [2]. Later on Monday, many thousands of people attended her funeral. President Peres gave the eulogy. In Hebrew ahuva means ‘loved one’. Ahuva Tomer was clearly loved [3, 4]. She was promoted posthumously to the rank of brigadier-general.

P.S. Christine Nixon was the first female Chief Police Commissioner of the Victoria Police [5]. At the height of the Black Saturday bushfires in January 2009, where was she? At a morning hairdressing appointment, then a lunchtime meeting with her biographer, then an evening restaurant dinner with friends [6, 7].


Chrows25 aka Leather Woman said...

Very brave and very sad.

Meg said...

What a brave woman. So so sad.