SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) — A memorial will be built in memory of the three Israelis killed in the recent earthquake in New Zealand.
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said Monday in Christchurch that Israel would pay for the memorial to backpackers Gabi Ingel, Ofer Levi and Ofer Mizrachi, who were among the more than 165 victims of the Feb. 22 disaster.
Rivlin toured the quake-stricken city on the south island with Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker.
“There is a covenant of blood between Israel and New Zealand," Rivlin told Parker, according to The Jerusalem Post. “Many Israelis felt genuine pain, not just solidarity, when we saw the terrible images.”
Rivlin was joined by Likud lawmaker Haim Katz, search-and-rescue personnel, and members of the local Jewish community, including Chabad of New Zealand director Rabbi Mendel Goldstein. They lit candles, recited Psalms and laid wreaths at the places where the Israelis perished, as well as at the local Chabad house, which was heavily damaged in the disaster.
Rivlin is on the first official state visit by an Israeli to New Zealand since 1986.