Levayos Monday for Hero Father and Son He Tried to Save

YERUSHALAYIM -
Israelis enjoy the Hanukkah holiday, as they cross the hanging bridge at Bsor River, in Tze'elim, southern Israel, on December 9, 2015. Photo by Hadas Parush/Flash90. *** Local Caption *** ??? ????? ??? ????? ??? ???? ???? ??? ???? ????? ??????? ?? ????? ???? ?????
Hikers cross the hanging bridge at Bsor River, in Nachal Tze’elim, southern Israel. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The levayos for a father and son, z”l, who were killed in a tragic fall on a hike last Friday will take place Monday in their hometown of Kfar Vitkin. Dr. Omri Nir, a well-known historian and political analyst, and one of Israel’s top experts on Lebanon and Hezbollah, was niftar after he was critically injured when he tried to save his son Ilai when he fell off a cliff in Nachal Tze’elim, in the Negev. Ilai, who was also critically injured in the fall, was niftar on Sunday.

The elder Nir and his son were participating in a hike organized by Ilai’s school, with 15 children ages 6-10 and at least one parent participating. On Friday, the group was hiking in Nachal Tze’elim, and as the group went down a particularly steep drop, Omri Nir and his son slipped, rolling down the stony hill. Ilai’s father immediately drew the child inward, protecting him from striking the rocks, as he himself was battered as he rolled down.

Rescue forces arrived after several minutes, and a helicopter was dispatched to pick them up and bring them to Soroka Hospital in Be’er Sheva. Both were in critical condition. Dr. Nir’s death was declared on the way to the hospital, while Ilai managed to hold on. He was niftar early Sunday. Given the circumstances, the family decided to hold off on the levayah of the father and bury both together. Dr. Nir leaves behind a wife and two other children.

Tributes have been pouring in for Dr. Nir, who was a much-admired professor at Tel Aviv University – but even more admiration has been forthcoming for his life-sacrificing effort to save his son. “He was an amazing person,” neighbors told Yediot Achronot. “It is so like him to do what he did, to save the life of his son at the cost of his own life. That is who he was.”