A security guard was killed during a bank robbery in Be'er Yaakov yesterday. The robbery took place at about 6 P.M., a few minutes before the Bank Hapoalim branch on Ayala Street was due to close.

A man on a motorcycle pulled up to the bank, parked his vehicle and went to the door, whereupon security guard Yaniv Englar, 31, of Rishon Letzion, asked him to remove his helmet.

In response, the man shoved Englar aside, and a fight broke out, with Englar trying to subdue the biker. At some point in the struggle, the man pulled out a pistol. Englar tried to grab his gun hand, but the assailant managed to break away and shot Englar in the chest.

The first shot brought Englar down, whereupon the assailant fired two more bullets at him.

With Englar out of the picture, the robber's path was clear: He entered the bank and emptied the tills of two tellers, netting several thousands of shekels. He then fled on his motorcycle.

When the robber entered the bank, all the workers and customers spontaneously lay down on the floor in fear and remained there until he left. Thus, only after he had gone were they able to try to administer first aid to Englar.

"I heard a great blow on the door of the bank, and then we saw the guard struggling with the robber," related Na'aman Liban, a customer from Ashdod. "After a few seconds of struggle, he [the robber] had already managed to fire several bullets at him and enter the bank. People were frightened. We all lay down on the floor; no one wanted to look him in the eyes. We saw him flee on his motorbike, and then people from inside the bank tried to help the guard. He was lying there and groaning, and his situation was serious."

Police praised Englar for having tried to do his duty so devotedly.

"From the moment we were informed of the robbery, large numbers of policemen aided by a helicopter begin searching for the suspect," said Chief Superintendent Shlomi Michael, commander of the Ramle police station. "The guard did his job faithfully and paid for it with his life. This was a grave incident."

Englar's family learned of his death from the media, and his mother immediately rushed to the bank, accompanied by another relative. Englar's body was still lying by the entrance when they arrived.

This particular bank branch appears to attract robbers: It has been hit several times over the past few years.