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Israel mourns man who drowned trying to save Bedouin family at reservoir

Michael Ben Zikri has become a symbol of unity between Jews and Muslims after he lost his life trying to save a Bedouin family of four.

Israel mourns man who drowned trying to save Bedouin family at reservoir
Image Source: Israel / Twitter

Late last week, 45-year-old Michael Ben Zikri risked his life to save a Bedouin family at Shiqma Reservoir in the south of Israel, Y Net News reports. The Israeli man, unfortunately, drowned while saving the family. He has since been praised by the Arab world as a hero, with many users across the internet sharing messages of grief and condolence. Ben Zikri has thus become a symbol of unity between the Jews and Muslims, uniting two communities that have for centuries been at loggerheads. His funeral was held on Sunday in Ashkelon cemetery.


The incident took place on Friday last week. When three children and their aunt, all residents of the Bedouin town of Hura, got caught in turbulence, the Israeli men jumped to action in order to save them. He, sadly, did not survive. His heroic act, however, saved the lives of the four family members. The country's Foreign Ministry shared his story on social media. Condolences were shared by folks across the Arab World, including countries such as Irad, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and beyond.


One user on the internet wrote, "This is true humanitarianism. There is no difference between humans, God has taught us to love one another." Another added, "Humanity has no religion, may he dwell in heaven and blessings come upon his families and loved ones for his noble act." "The fact we have political differences with you guys doesn't mean there is a disagreement between us about humanitarianism," a user from Egypt stated. An individual from Saudi Arabia quoted a passage from the Quran in which God claimed that whoever saves a single soul is considered to have saved all people.


Yonatan Gonen, the Israeli Foreign Ministry's social media manager, said that the story had gone viral; countless users were reportedly touched by Ben Zikri's story. "This is a touching story that couldn't leave users from Arab states indifferent, even those who are hostile to Israel," he said. "Users from Morocco to Iraq, from Oman to Syria, could identify with the story and unanimously pointed at Michael's heroism on a very large scale, some even pointed Israel's coexistence as a role model."


At Ben Zikri's funeral, his childhood friend, the Minister of Religious Affairs Ya'akov Avitan, eulogized him and shared details about his dear friend. "Anytime a person was in trouble, Michael was the first to help," he affirmed. "What he did on Friday wasn't an act of heroism to him, but a way of life. He gave all his life, and this time too, he was the first one to jump into the water." He is now survived by his wife and three children who miss him deeply.


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