The former head of Israel’s space program died on Sunday, succumbing to wounds inflicted when Arab rioters torched the hotel he was staying at in Acre, during deadly rioting that erupted last month in mixed Arab-Jewish cities.
Avi Har-Even, 84, a laureate of the country’s prestigious Israel Prize, sustained significant burns after the attack, and fell into a coma.
Several other guests at the upscale Efendi Hotel were also injured in the arson attack.
Another Jewish man was attacked and seriously injured by an Arab mob armed while driving his car through Acre. An Israeli soldier was hospitalized for a skull fracture and cerebral hemorrhage after being severely beaten by a separate Arab mob in the coastal city of Jaffa.
Two Jewish men were shot in separate incidents in the central Arab-Jewish city of Lod, which saw the most intense rioting.
Arab mobs torched apartments belonging to their Jewish neighbors, hurled Molotov cocktails in several synagogues and set fire to hundreds of cars. Many Jewish families were forced to quickly pack up their belongings and flee their houses, prompting the mayor of the mixed Arab-Jewish city to call it “reminiscent of the Nazi Kristallnacht.”
A Jewish resident of Lod was killed when Arabs struck him in the head multiple times with a brick. The victim’s kidney was then donated to an Arab woman.
During a long military career, Har-Even led several research and development projects advancing sophisticated weaponry.
He left the army and began working for the Israel Aerospace Industries in the early 1980s, leading a team that developed Israel’s Shavit satellite rocket launcher.
He held the position of Israel Space Agency director for almost a decade beginning in the mid 1990s.