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Holocaust survivor, 88, is Israel's 1st death from the coronavirus

Arie Even, who hid from the Nazis in Hungary as a youth, became the first person in Israel to die from the coronavirus.

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/ Source: TODAY
By Scott Stump

An 88-year-old Holocaust survivor who hid from the Nazis in a basement in Hungary as a boy and later served as an Israeli diplomat is the first person in Israel to die from the coronavirus.

Arie Even died on March 20 in Jerusalem after the assisted living home where he was living saw several cases of the coronavirus, according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

Holocaust survivor Arie Even, 88, became Israel's first person to die from the coronavirus. Courtesy of Family via Haaretz

The father of four and grandfather of 18 was born in Budapest, where his family fled Nazi persecution by escaping in a horse-drawn carriage and hiding in a basement during the Holocaust, his children told the Los Angeles Times.

He moved from Hungary to Israel by himself at 17 in 1949 and later worked overseas in multiple countries with his wife of 50 years, Yona, for Israel's Foreign Ministry, according to multiple reports. Yona died in 2012.

"He believed profoundly in equality, in civil rights," his daugher Yael, 57, told the Los Angeles Times. “He believed that this land belonged to all of its citizens.”

A funeral was held for Even on Saturday night in which only one of his children, Omri, was able to attend because of quarantine measures taken by the Israeli government that prevented the rest of the family from gathering.

"My siblings and I will memorialize our father in a way that is meaningful to us, but the thing is, there is a pandemic," his son, Yaakov, 62, told the Los Angeles Times. "That’s the problem. We don’t want to get it. It is bad enough that he got it."

As of Monday morning, there are more than 350,000 cases of the coronavirus worldwide, including more than 1,200 in Israel, according to Johns Hopkins University.