J-Wire header - Hebrew U Druze doctor to be honoured on Independence Day

Israel’s Minister of Culture and Sports, Miri Regev, Chairwoman of the Ministerial Committee on Symbols and Ceremonies, has informed Dr. Salman Zarka that he has been honoured and selected to be one of the 12 torch-lighters during the official ceremony on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem kicking off Israel’s Independence Day celebrations this year.

Dr. Salman Zarka with a Syrian girl and her motherDr. Salman Zarka with a Syrian girl and her mother

Zarka thanked Regev for “approving him and all he represents, in his activities, his being an Israeli and belonging to the Druze community.”

Zarka, of the Druze village of Peki’in in the north, is the Director of Ziv Medical Center in Tsfat and is an internationally renowned expert in public and military medicine.

An IDF Colonel (res.), Zarka served in the Medical Corps for 25 years and last served as the Commander of the IDF Center for Medical Services and the Head of Health Department in the Medical Corps. In March 2013 he founded and commanded the operation of a field hospital on the Israel-Syrian border for the treatment of thousands of victims of the civil war in the war-torn country.

He is a senior lecturer at the Faculty of Social Welfare and Health in the School of Public Health of Haifa University and senior lecturer in the Department of Military Medicine at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Regev stated that Zarka “expresses the spirit of the IDF and the affirmation of Israeli conscience in the dedicated care provided to all those in need of medical assistance, including those well beyond the borders of Israel.”

“Dr. Zarka’s spirit of dedication upholds the values of the Declaration of Independence. Dr. Zarka expresses the brotherly alliance between us and the Druze community. Dr. Zarka, I am proud of you for your humanitarian spirit, which represents the good and the fair in our society, for the benefit of the public and the individual in the periphery and beyond borders,” she added.

Zarka said that his torch is “an honor and a privilege to all civilian and military doctors and nurses who provide quality and advanced medical services to all citizens and soldiers in Israel, at all times and places, in the center and in the periphery.”

He also noted that the medical teams “have displayed exalted values and spirit by providing life-saving medical treatment to the Syrian enemy on the border, in the military hospital and in the medical centers in the north.”

“I am very proud to light the torch on behalf of the military medical teams to which I belonged for many years in routine and emergency situations, and also on behalf of the amazing team members at Ziv Medical Center, who performed a unique task in helping the Syrians and working tirelessly to promote equal medical services in the northern periphery,” he concluded.

The Ministerial Committee on Symbols and Ceremonies, which determines the identity of the honorees, noted that in his activities, Zarka “expresses the State of Israel’s commitment to the basic values of human dignity and the sanctity of life and the exceptional dedication of the medical staff in Israeli public hospitals to the treatment of all humankind.”