Israel Memorial Day 2019: Remembering Israel’s Fallen Diplomats

Every year, on Yom Hazikaron, Israel Memorial Day, Israeli society comes together to mourn the thousands of soldiers who have fallen protecting the State and guaranteeing its existence, as well as the thousands of civilian victims of terror.
A dimension of the nation’s story of loss not often told is that of the diplomats and official representatives whose lives were taken while serving the country abroad.​​​​​​​​​​​​ ​

Minister of Foreign Affairs Israel Katz addressing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs memorial ceremony.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Israel Katz addressing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs memorial ceremony.

Copyright: MFA

As publically identifiable representatives of Israel around the world – men and women who fly the national flag both literally and figuratively wherever they go – ​Israel’s diplomatic personnel are a constant target for attack by Palestinian terror organizations. Sadly, diplomatic immunity is of no use when it comes to this terrorist threat. 
Over the years, sixteen diplomats and foreign service personnel have been murdered in the line of duty. The fact that these heroes wore business suits rather than military fatigues does not diminish in any way their own personal contribution to the national effort to secure our country and ensure its well-being.
As the nation mourns its fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also mourns the loss of its own murdered diplomats and staffers, who gave their lives in the service of the State of Israel so that the people of Israel may live in peace, security and prosperity. 

Their personal stories are told below:

  • Edna Peer, Asuncion, Paraguay, 1970

  Edna Peer (1936-1970) had worked at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs from a young age. Moshe Peer, Edna’s husband, worked at the Ministry as an administrative officer. She and their children accompanied him on diplomatic postings in several countries. Their final posting was at the Israeli Embassy in Asuncion, Paraguay. On May 4, 1970, three Palestinian terrorists broke into the Embassy and opened fire on embassy personnel in a failed attempt to assassinate the Ambassador, Benjamin Weiser Varon. Though the ambassador wasn’t hurt, Edna Peer was shot and killed. The Spanish-English secretary, Diana Zabluk, was also seriously wounded. Two days after the murder, Moshe Peer and his three little children brought Edna’s coffin home to Israel, where she was buried. The three terrorists, residents of the Gaza Strip and members of the Palestinian terrorist organization Fatah, were assisted in the attack by Arabs living in Paraguay. They were arrested and sentenced to long prison terms.  

  • Efraim Elrom, Istanbul, Turkey, 1971

Efraim Elrom (1911-1971) served as the Israeli Consul General to Turkey and was the first member of Israel’s diplomatic corps to become a terror victim. Elrom was abducted and murdered in Istanbul by a Turkish terror organization. During the British Mandate, Elrom served as a police interrogator. In 1948, after the establishment of the State of Israel, he was recruited by the Israel Police. Amongst his many professional roles, Elrom served as an assistant commander of the special interrogation bureau at the trial of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in 1960. In 1969, Elrom was appointed as the Israeli Consul General to Turkey. He succeeded in building good relations with Turkish government officials, members of foreign missions, as well as the Jewish community in Istanbul. On May 17, 1971, Elrom was kidnapped in Istanbul by members of a Turkish terror organization, the Turkish People’s Liberation Army. As ransom, the terror organization demanded the release of all its members jailed in Turkish prisons. They set a deadline, threatening that if their demands were not met, Elrom would “face a firing squad”.  Consul General Efraim Elrom was shot to death on May 22, 1971. His body was found in an apartment building in Istanbul, a short distance from his house and the Embassy of Israel in Turkey. He was 58 years old.   

  • Ami Shechori, London, United Kingdom, 1972

Dr. Ami Shechori (1928-1972) served as the agricultural attaché at the Israeli Embassy in London, UK. Shechori was killed by a letter bomb. The Palestinian terrorist organization Black September claimed responsibility. Shechori studied agronomy at the University of California, Berkeley. He returned to Israel after graduating and received his Ph.D. in agronomy from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In 1968 he was appointed as the agricultural attaché at the Israeli Embassy in London. On September 19, 1972, four days before ending his tour of duty and after his wife Ruth and their two children had already returned to Israel, Shechori opened his morning mail and a letter bomb exploded in his hands. He was fatally wounded and died on the way to the hospital.  In fact, a series of letter bombs had been sent from Amsterdam to Israeli embassies all over the world, addressed to individual embassy staffers. Shechori was the only victim. The sender of those letters was the Palestinian terrorist organization Black September. This attack took place only two weeks after the Munich massacre of Israeli Olympic athletes by the same Palestinian terror organization.  

  • Giora Raviv, Johannesburg, South Africa, 1975

Giora Raviv (1944-1975) served as the security officer at the Israeli Consulate in Johannesburg, South Africa.  During his service in the IDF, Raviv was among the first to enter the Old City of Jerusalem in the Six Day War and was in the first unit to cross the Suez Canal in the Yom Kippur War. He returned from those wars unharmed, but unfortunately found his death in his security service overseas. Raviv began his service as the security officer at the Israeli Consulate in Johannesburg in October 1974. On April 28, 1975, a mentally unbalanced South African Jew, who was working at the Consulate as a security assistant, shot him and another local employee while also taking a number of hostages. Raviv’s widow, Nurit, was pregnant at the time.  

  • Shlomo Argov, London, United Kingdom, 1982

Shlomo Argov (1929-2003) served as the Israeli Ambassador to the UK.
He died 21 years after three members of Abu Nidal’s terror organization shot him in the head in London in 1982. Born in Jerusalem to a family which has lived in Jerusalem for seven generations, Argov received a B.A. in political science from Georgetown University in Washington D.C. (1952) and an M.A. in international relations from the London School of Economics (1955).  In 1959, after several years in the Prime Minister’s Office, he joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Argov’s first postings were to the Israeli embassies in Ghana and Nigeria. He later served in New York and Washington. He then served as Ambassador to Mexico (1971-1974) and the Netherlands (1977-1979). Through these years he built a reputation as one of the Foreign Ministry’s most gifted public speakers. In September 1979, he assumed his final post as Ambassador to the UK. On June 3, 1982, Shlomo was shot in the head and critically wounded by three Palestinian terrorists from the Abu Nidal group of the PLO outside London’s Dorchester Hotel, where he was one of 80 diplomats attending a private dinner. He was hospitalized in Jerusalem for 21 years and remained permanently incapacitated until his death on February 23, 2003, at the age of 73. The three terrorists were arrested and sentenced to 30-35 years of imprisonment. Argov’s devoted wife, Hava, who nursed him during his long hospitalization at the Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem, where he had been ever since his return from London, passed away in 2002. Hava and Shlomo Argov are survived by two children.  

  • Eti Tal-Or, Cairo, Egypt, 1986

Eti Tal-Or (1961-1986) was the wife of Gil Tal-Or, a security officer at the Israeli Embassy in Cairo, Egypt.  On March 19, 1986, an embassy car carrying four Israelis was attacked by terrorist in front of the International Trade Fair in Cairo, near the Israeli pavilion. Eti was killed on the spot. The other three Israelis were seriously wounded.  Eti was only 24 when she died.  

  • Ehud Sadan, Ankara, Turkey, 1992

Ehud Sadan (1955-1992) served as the Chief of Security at the Israeli Embassy in Ankara, Turkey. He was killed by a bomb attached to his car. Sadan joined the Israel Police in 1977. He later became the head of the Police’s Forensic Science Department. In 1990, Sadan took up his posting as security chief at the Israeli Embassy in Ankara. On March 7, 1992, Sadan was murdered by an explosive charge placed under his car near an open-air market in Ankara. The blast was so powerful that it blew a 16-inch-deep hole in the road beneath Sadan’s car, turning the vehicle into a charred wreck. It damaged 6 other cars and shattered windows up to 50 yards away. The body of the 37-year-old officer, the father of three children, was returned to Israel. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the murder. Hezbollah denied involvement. On May 23, 2000, Farhan Osman a man with double Turkish and Iranian citizenship, was arrested in Turkey. Osman was an operative of Turkish Hezbollah. He confessed to killing Sadan, saying he carried out this attack, and others, on orders from Iran, from which he had received weapons, and where he had trained.   

  • Eliora Carmon, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1992

Eliora Carmon (1953-1992) served as a liaison officer at the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Her husband, Danny Carmon, served at the time as the Israeli Consul. Eliora, together with three other Israelis, was among the 29 people killed in the deadly terror attack on the Israeli Embassy, carried out by Hezbollah with Iranian assistance.  Eliora was named after her grandfather, Eliezer Kaplan, who was the first Minister of Finance of the State of Israel. She served abroad on several diplomatic postings.   On March 17, 1992, a bomb-laden car driven by a suicide terrorist smashed into the front of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires and exploded. The powerful car bomb destroyed the building, killing 29 people and injuring 242, among them diplomats, neighbors and passersby. Four Foreign Ministry employees were among those murdered – David Ben Rafael, Eli Ben Zeev, Eliora Carmon and Zehava Zehavi.  Danny Carmon was also injured from the blast and survived. He was left to raise their five young children alone. 

  • Eli Ben-Zeev, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1992

Eli Ben-Zeev (1957-1992) served as a security officer at the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Eli, together with three other Israelis, was among the 29 people killed in the deadly terror attack on the Israeli Embassy carried out by Hezbollah with Iranian assistance. Eli’s body was found under the rubble three days after the devastating explosion. After finishing his service in the IDF, Eli worked as a sniper and a security guard at Israel’s Ben-Gurion International Airport. In 1988, he joined the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a security officer. His first posting was to Ankara, Turkey. In 1991, he left the Turkish capital, moving on to his next destination – Buenos Aires, Argentina.  Twenty-five years after what remains as the deadliest attack on an Israeli diplomatic mission, Miri Ben-Zeev, Eli’s wife, told the Times of Israel that, after a tense time in Ankara, Turkey, under constant threats and tight security measures, they both had hoped the Argentine capital would bring them some peace of mind.  (In fact, Eli’s replacement in Ankara, Ehud  Sadan, was murdered by a car bomb just 10 days before the fatal terror attack at the Buenos Aires Embassy.) Eli’s wife and her two young sons soon moved back to Israel.

  • David Ben Rafael, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1992

David Ben Rafael (1948-1992), served as the Deputy Chief of Mission at the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina. David, together with three other Israelis, was among the 29 people killed in the deadly terror attack on the Israeli Embassy carried out by Hezbollah with Iranian assistance.  David was an American-born lawyer who originally came to Israel on a visit. He studied law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and eventually decided to settle in Israel.  He joined the Foreign Ministry and represented Israel in a number of diplomatic missions. In 1983, David was sent to London and worked in public affairs. Later, he served as the Consul General in Chicago. He also served as a legal advisor to some of the committees working on the implementation of the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. Six months before the terror attack occurred, David was appointed as the Deputy Chief of Mission at the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in what would be his last posting. David, who was involved in the legal aspects of the battle against terrorism, himself fell victim to a cruel act of terror.  He was listed as missing until his body was discovered by rescue workers three days after the terror attack. David is survived by his wife, Elisa and their two children.    

  • Shira Troper-Arnon, Lagos, Nigeria, 1995

Shira Troper-Arnon (1972-1995) served as a secretary at the Israeli Embassy in Lagos, Nigeria, when she was killed. Before that posting, she had worked in education.  In 1993, Shira’s husband, David Arnon, was appointed as the Security Officer at the Israeli Embassy in Lagos, Nigeria, and she joined him on his mission. On January 2, 1995, Shira was traveling with her husband and another couple who worked at the Finnish Embassy, when their Israeli diplomatic vehicle broke down outside the Nigerian capital of Lagos. Local residents approached them and started stabbing Shira. After losing a lot of blood, she died of her injuries.  Shira was only 23 when she died. Her body was returned to Israel.  

  • Aviv Cohen, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, 1996

Aviv Cohen (1962-1996) served as Second Secretary at the Israeli Embassy in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
Cohen joined the cadets training course at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1995. His mission to Santo Domingo was his first overseas position. He arrived in Santo Domingo only a few days before the murder along with his wife, Orna, and their two children. On September 26, 1996, while Aviv and his family were shopping at a supermarket near their hotel, a mugger attacked Orna. When Aviv rushed to help her, he was shot and killed. Cohen was brought to rest in Israel on September 30, 1996.  

  • Sorek Gefen, Amman, Jordan, 1999

Sorek Gefen (1976 – 1999) served as a security officer at the Israeli Embassy in Amman, Jordan. In 1998, after finishing his service in the IDF, Sorek joined the Israel Security Agency. After completing a special course, he was appointed to Amman, Jordan. Sorek was critically wounded in a training accident in the embassy’s yard in Amman, Jordan. On March 2, 1999, a week after the accident, he died at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem. He was only 22 years old.  

  • Elazar Brosh, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, 2000

Elazar Brosh (2000), served as an Israeli attaché to Kyrgyzstan. He was the representative of Mashav, the Foreign Ministry’s Agency for International Development Cooperation. Elazar was an expert on farming. From his childhood to his very last day, Elazar was deeply attached to the land. Having started his career at his family farm, Elazar went on to develop and be responsible (independently) for cooperation in the fields of agriculture in Egypt, Sardinia, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan, introducing them to new Israeli technologies, providing consultation and training. On August 3, 2000, Elazar was stabbed to death in the apartment he rented in the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek. The murderer knew Elazar and had met him several times before.

  • Orit Ozerov, Jerusalem, Israel, 2002

Orit Ozerov (1947-2002) was an employee of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She was one of the 11 people who were killed by a Hamas suicide bomber in Cafe Moment in Jerusalem. Orit joined the Foreign Ministry four years before she was murdered. She had been working as an office manager while studying for her M.A. at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. On March 9, 2002, a Hamas suicide bomber entered the crowded café in the center of Jerusalem and detonated a powerful explosive charge that destroyed the restaurant, killing 11 Israelis and injuring 54.   

  • David Diego Ladowsky, Jerusalem, Israel, 2002

David Diego Ladowsky (1973-2002) joined the Foreign Ministry’s diplomatic cadet program and had been appointed to assume the position of Second Secretary, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of Israel in Lima, Peru. On July 31, 2002, a Hamas bomb exploded in the Frank Sinatra cafeteria at the Hebrew University’s Mount Scopus campus in Jerusalem, where David was studying for his M.A., killing 9 and injuring 85 others. David was one of 9 people who were killed in the attack.   May their memory be a blessing.