Australia salutes ex-Israeli soldier with bravery award

SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) — A former Israeli soldier was cited in Australia for his heroism in saving lives during a Perth supermarket fire.

Matti Mintz, 33, was one of 19 Australians honored last week by Governor-General Quentin Bryce with the Bravery Medal, which has been awarded annually since 1975 for “acts of bravery in hazardous circumstances."

Mintz, who trained in a counter-terror unit of the Israel Defense Forces, is married to an Australian and has dual citizenship.

His citation says he risked his own life to save five people from near death during the fire on Oct. 19, 2008. Among those he saved were two elderly women and a young mother and her baby. The supermarket was destroyed by the blaze.

“It was fight or flight,” Mintz told J-Wire, a local Jewish Web site. “People needed my help. I fought.”

An official ceremony will be held in September at Government House.

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