Former U researcher killed in Gaza Strip

Mike Zacharias

A former University researcher was killed by Palestinian gunmen Sunday morning in the Gaza Strip.

Baruch Zinger, 51, was driving to pick up his son from an Israeli army base when the gunmen opened fire. He was a professor and researcher in electrochemistry and lived in the Israeli town of Gadera.

Zinger came to Minnesota in the early 1980s to perform postdoctoral research at the University and has returned multiple times since.

“He basically had a second family here in Minnesota; he really loved Minnesota,” said Walter Elias, a friend of Zinger’s family since the early 1980s. “They had a large circle of very close friends here, and we’re all just appalled by the tragic events of the last few days.”

Zinger had four children he was close to as well as a wonderful sense of humor and a love for music, Elias said.

Leeor Kronik, a postdoctoral associate in chemical engineering and material science, did not meet Zinger until he came to Minnesota two years ago. A mutual friend in Israel urged him to call Zinger for help when he arrived.

“Even though they didn’t know me before that, they just went out of their way to help me in everything and anything,” Kronik said of Zinger and his wife Nurit. “They just did everything for me, they were amazing.”

Ha’aretz, an Israeli newspaper, reported two gunmen opened fire on traffic, hitting Zinger’s jeep. Zinger made a call to his wife and then his son Oded. His son was reportedly the commander of the tank that killed the gunmen.

Zinger was always in favor of peace between the Palestinians and Israelis, and the conflict between the two saddened him, said Larry Miller, a chemistry professor who worked with Zinger.

“It’s a terrible thing altogether for all people who are involved in terrorism around the world, us included,” said Miller. “For him, to be such a peaceful person and really hoping always to have the problem solved in a peaceful way, it makes it especially difficult.”

A private memorial service for friends and acquaintances in Minnesota is planned for Saturday.

Mike Zacharias welcomes comments at [email protected]