7.1 PROJECT APPROACH AND DESIGN
| 7.2 DEVELOPING AND FIELD-TESTING THE QUESTIONNAIRE |
7.3 SELECTING AND PREPARING INTERVIEWERS | 7.4 RESPONDENT PROFILE IN RELATION TO 17 BOMBINGS
| 7.5 HOW THE 26 RESPONDENTS WERE LOCATED | 7.6 WHERE RESPONDENTS WERE INTERVIEWED
| 7.7 PROFILE OF RESPONDENTS | 7.8 THE BOMBING – IMMEDIATE POST-BOMBING MEMORIES AND ACTIONS
| 7.9 TESTIMONIES OF SURVIVORS AND FAMILIES OF VICTIMS
Some survivors and families of victims of suicide bombings have been given the opportunity to speak of
their experiences in places like North America, Europe, and Australia. But in the wider world there have
been very few opportunities to 'break the silence' surrounding what really happens to civilians when a
suicide bombing takes place. For the past three years Civilian Project 2002-4 has listened to the survivors and families of victims and those who work with them. This chapter outlines how questionnaires were developed, interviewers selected and survivors and families of victims selected to be interviewed. From their
painful testimonies, a unique profile of the real consequences of suicide bombings on civilians has emerged.
From the 121 suicide bombings and suicide attacks which have taken place between September 2000 and
December 2004, seventeen suicide bombings were chosen as being more familiar to an international
audience. These included the Sbarro pizzeria bombing in Jerusalem, the Dolphinarium disco bombing in Tel
Aviv and the Maxim restaurant bombing in Haifa. Primarily from those 17 bombings respondents were
sought. Trauma experts and psychologists guided the project on how to develop the interview approach and
questionnaire, and how to conduct the interviews, bearing in mind that some respondents might not have
spoken before about their painful experiences. For such respondents the interviews could perhaps represent a
small step in their own progress of 'moving on' and resiliency-building.
The interview approach and key questions for the questionnaire were developed from experiences of the
Community Trauma Prevention Center in Kiryat Shemona, and the International Trauma Relief Network in
Tivon. Israeli trauma experts, clinical psychologists, and pre-test interviews with family members of victims
of bombings in Jerusalem, and Haifa assisted in the development and refining of the questionnaire. Also
referred to was a questionnaire first used in Bosnia to investigate possible use of chemical warfare agents,
which had been subsequently modified by Human Rights Watch.
The questionnaire used to interview survivors and families of victims was prepared in March 2003 in two
parts, one for survivors and one for families of victims. Both began with three sections containing brief
factual information about the respondent and the bombing. These initial sections were to be completed in advance by the Interviewer. The fourth section contained questions designed to obtain a description of the
bombing by respondents. This included recall of events, feelings and responses in their own words. To help
recall, the interviewer asked 18 questions relating to what respondents were doing immediately before the
bombing, when the explosion occurred, what they saw, heard, smelled, thought, felt, and what happened
immediately after the bombing. The questions and interviewing approach bore in mind the likely painful and
possibly dis-empowering effect of such memories. Also awareness that it might be difficult for some
respondents to differentiate between what they 'thought' and what they 'felt.
The next section of the questionnaire focused on what had happened to the respondent after the bombing and
up to the time of the interview. It contained 16 questions relating to the days and weeks after the bombing,
such as time in hospital, time in rehabilitation, assistance sought and obtained from psychologists, therapists,
social workers, Terror Victim Assistance organizations, and Social Security. Respondents were asked what
help they still considered they needed, and what they thought about at that time which helped or still
disturbed them, and what they did when they saw another suicide bombing on TV. They were asked what
feelings they had which helped, or still disturbed them, what they felt about the bombers and their families,
what they did now to help themselves, what others did which either helped or disturbed them. They were
asked about basic socio-economic circumstances, physical difficulties they continued to face if wounded,
and whether they met with other terror victims' families. Finally, they were asked why they had agreed to be
interviewed, and what they would particularly like people outside Israel to know about the consequences of
suicide bombings on civilians.
The questionnaires, one for survivors and one for families of victims, were then field-tested in Jerusalem in
English and French, and minor alterations made. They were then translated by volunteers, who included a
medical doctor, a lawyer, and a university professor, into Hebrew, Russian, French and Arabic. (Examples
of the questionnaires in English are included on this website.)
Great care was taken in selecting the six volunteer interviewers. The limited financial resources of the
project did not enable a group briefing or training to take place. Instead, individuals who were already
professionals or appropriate candidates were approached by the coordinator to consider being interviewers.
Particular attributes sought were: sensitivity, ability to listen well, ability to express support and compassion,
willingness to undertake an important task, awareness of likely painful personal feelings as 'spin-off
following the interviews, willingness to work voluntarily and understanding of project objectives.
Each interviewer was briefed by the coordinator before every interview. She went through the questionnaire
and helped the interviewer to fill in preliminary information, make first contact with respondents, and
discussed preparation of interview location and respondent. The general guidelines for interviewers included
admonitions such as: Ensure the respondent is comfortable; sit opposite to them and make sympathetic eye
contact; maybe drink coffee/cold drink together; conduct the interview in a quiet place, one person at a time
(unless other family members are purposely present), with the interviewer asking questions in the primary
language preferred by the respondent (Hebrew/Russian/ English/French/Arabic); if the respondent wants
another family member present to support them, record their presence. The interviewer should be
sympathetic and supportive. If the respondent does not want to answer a question e.g. about the suicide
bomber(s), do not probe, just record their statement and go on to the next question. Do not rush the
respondent; be a 'sympathetic listener' who asks gently probing questions to help recall. By the end of the
interview, the aim is for the respondents to feel strengthened in their own resiliency. The interviewer may
use a tape recorder if the respondent agrees, but must take notes (main source of information).
The average length of each of the 21 interviews was two and a half hours long. Interpreters were not used, as
the intention was to conduct the interview in the language of choice of the respondent. On two occasions, the
coordinator was also present during an interview, one in Russian and one in Arabic, with limited translation
to Hebrew and English. On four occasions the interview included other family members and friends (six
people present once as respondents, and two people present as respondents three times). The interview
approach was adjusted to include them, and became more like a group interview. The volunteer interviewers
included a retired social work university lecturer, an alternative therapist, a retired schoolteacher, a retired
police officer, a music theorist, a health professional, and a musicologist.
The first two respondents had lost family members in Jerusalem bombings. A daughter had lost her mother
and niece at a suicide bombing which targeted waiting bus passengers in French Hill in northern Jerusalem,
and a mother had lost her teenage daughter who was a cashier when the Sbarro pizzeria exploded in central
Jerusalem. Among the subsequent respondents was a grandfather who had lost his teenage granddaughter in
the Sbarro bombing, a young jazz musician in Tel Aviv who had survived the bombing in Mike's Place
seafront pub and a young mother who had lost her five-year-old daughter in a bus bombing in Jerusalem and
survived badly wounded with her wounded baby and husband. Two respondents were mothers who had lost
teenage children in the Dolphinarium discotheque bombing. Other respondents were; a woman who had
survived a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv's Dizengoff, an overseas worker who had survived badly wounded
in a Tel Aviv market bombing, a mother who had lost her daughter in the Cafe Moment bombing in
Jerusalem, and a young man, originally from France, who had been badly wounded by that bombing. He was
cared for by a man (also interviewed) who had survived the Cafe Hillel bombing in Jerusalem.
Two respondents were Russian-born women who had survived the Hadera Bat Mitzvah bombing in which
both their husbands died. Another respondent was a woman whose daughter had been killed in a bus
bombing in the infamous Wadi Ara near the coastal town of Hadera. Also interviewed was a Druse Arab
family who had lost a police officer son as he prevented a bombing in a Tel Aviv market, and a Christian
Arab who had survived the bombing at crowded Maxim Restaurant near Haifa. Another respondent was an American Christian mother who had lost her teenage daughter in a bus bombing in Haifa's Moriah
Boulevard. A woman who had been a by-passer at the time of that bombing was also interviewed.
Other respondents included a woman whose teacher husband had been shot by a suicide attacker who infiltrated
the kibbutz where they lived, a woman whose sister-in-law had been shot by a suicide attacker as she went
to collect her baby from kindergarten, and a hi-tech family who lost five family members at the Maxim
bombing. The wife had survived badly wounded, and a young nephew had been blinded. Another
respondent was a vascular surgeon who had survived partially blinded by a female bomber in a shopping
mall in Afula near Haifa. Of the 26 respondents 9 were survivors of suicide bombings, 17 had lost a family
member in suicide bombings and one had been a by-stander at the scene.
It was never the intention to have a large sample of respondents because it was neither feasible nor
necessary. What was desired was to generate reliable qualitative data. Respondents came from all over
Israel, from Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Ra-anana, Pardess Hannah, Or Akiva, Afula, Zichron Yaacov, Haifa,
Kibbutz Metzer, Yirkar in the mountainous northwest of the Galilee and Mitzpe Ramon on the northern
plateau of the Negev desert. If additional family members were added to the list of primary respondents the
total number of people interviewed was 32. They were all over 18 years of age. The decision had already
been taken not to interview children, as this required special expertise which was not considered available to
The first two respondents were suggested by the Terror Victim's Association in Jerusalem. Then the Israel Crisis Management Center in Tel Aviv suggested two mothers of teenagers who died in the Dolphinarium bombing. One respondent was suggested by a psychologist, two by a bereavement counselor, one by the Philippine Embassy in Tel Aviv, one through police contacts and one by a social worker. But the majority of
respondents were located through the 'grapevine' of personal contacts It was estimated by 1 November 2004
that 1 in 5 Israelis had lost a family member or friend in a terror attack, or knew someone who had.. It was
therefore not difficult to locate potential respondents.
By November 2004, 1 in 5 Israelis had lost a family member or friend in a
terror attack, or knew someone who had.
The interviews were carried out in 9 locations throughout Israel between 6 March 2003 and 19 December
Tel Aviv (4);
Pardess Hannah (1);
Or Akiva (2);
Kibbutz Metzer (1);
Zichron Yaacov (3);
Mitzpe Ramon (1)
Respondents were always given the first choice of where they wished to be interviewed. It was felt that only they could decide where
they might feel most comfortable to talk about their traumatic experiences.
The first two interviews were carried out in Jerusalem at the Terror Victims Association. Subsequent interviews were carried out at: an
office in the home of one respondent; shopping mall cafes in Jerusalem and Haifa; a hospital; the
coordinator's home; a Haifa restaurant (scene of a bombing); the apartment of a musician in Tel Aviv; family
apartments in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Zichron Yaacov, Or Akiva, and Haifa; family homes on a kibbutz and in
a rural town; an Arab village in the northern Galilee, and a restaurant in the northern Negev desert. Fourteen
of the interviews were carried out by the coordinator in English, two in French, two in Russian, two in
Hebrew, one in Arabic with some Hebrew and English translation.
Of the 26 primary respondents 11 were male and 15 female. The age range among females was 23 to 74
years old, with an average age of 45. Among the males the age range was from 23 to 70 years old, with an
average age of 41. Of the respondents 24 were of Israeli nationality, with the following ethnic backgrounds:
seven were Israeli-born, five were immigrants from the former Soviet Union, two were born in the United
States, seven were immigrants from European countries, one was born in a South American country, one
was an immigrant from South Africa, four were Arab Israelis, one was an overseas worker from the
Philippines, and one was a U.S. citizen.
Of the respondents, 25 were married, 20 single, three divorced and two widowed. The educational
background and occupations of the respondents included: students of economics, two teachers, two
engineers, a librarian, a nurse, medical receptionist, dental assistant, consultant therapist, restaurant owner,
jazz musician, ex-soldier, businessman, hi-tech engineer and a vascular surgeon. There was a relatively high
percentage of people with higher education and professionals, perhaps reflecting the generally high
percentage of professionals in the population. Of the respondents, five had to change their occupations as a
result of the suicide bombing. One, for traumatic stress reasons, was unable to sustain a normal working day
and could work part-time only. Three had to change occupations because of serious injury and disabilities.
LOCATIONS AND DETAILS OF BOMBINGS
The dates of the 17 suicide bombings in which the respondents were involved ranged from the bombing on 4
March 1996 in the Dizengoff shopping mall in which 13 people died and 100 were also wounded, to the 4
October 2003 suicide bombing at the Maxim restaurant in Haifa in which 20 people died and 69 were wounded. Thirteen (81%) of the suicide bombings took place in cities and towns, one on a public highway,
one in a shopping mall, two in markets, two inside buses, and seven (43%) in cafes and restaurants. Of the
bombing five (31%) took place in Jerusalem, five in Tel Aviv, two in Haifa, one in Hadera, one in Afula,
one in Pardess Hannah in the Wadi Ara area, one suicide attack in Kibbutz Metzer and another in Meva
Dotan in agricultural areas. Of the suicide bombers involved, 20 were male and two were female.
Respondents were asked what they were doing just before the bombing, then what they saw, thought, felt
and did immediately after the bombing. They were asked who and what had helped them at that time, or
what had upset them. They were asked whether they recalled seeing the suicide bomber(s). The next
testimony boxes illustrate some of their answers. What they remembered just before the bombing ranged
from being at home, seeing the bombing on TV (without realizing their relatives or friends were involved),
receiving a phone call from a friend about the bombing, sitting in a Jerusalem bus with two young children,
queuing to return a family video in a shopping mall, and sitting down to enjoy lunch in a restaurant.
"I was walking in the market when the world exploded."
|"There was a huge explosion, the smell of sulphur, dirt flying, broken glass. It went very quiet, then
people started screaming' (survivor).
'When I later saw on TV the black plastic body bags laid out on the sidewalk, I knew that my mother
must have been in one of them' (relative).
'My daughter phoned me to say my grand-daughter was dead. I cried for days' (relative).
'I was walking in the market when the world exploded. I was thrown into the air. I felt numbness in my
hands and legs. I couldn't hear. Then I was lying in the street until someone dragged me away to a
safer place' (survivor).
As the cafe exploded I threw myself to the ground and put a chair over my head. I felt in my thigh the
pain of a penetrating wound' (survivor).
'We were celebrating a Bar Mitzvah. At first, we thought the gunfire from the suicide attacker was
fireworks. Then people were crying and it was chaos' (survivor).
'After the explosion there was silence with just the sound of breaking glass, and clouds of black
smoke, like the darkness of night without a moon. In the restaurant, which is small, the pile of bodies
seemed enormous' (survivor).
Later in this chapter at 7.10 are fuller testimonies of survivors and families of victims. The next box
illustrates some thoughts and feelings which disturbed or helped respondents at the time immediately after
surviving the bombing or hearing about it.
Thoughts and feelings which disturbed and those which helped
|The thought which disturbed me most was that some children had lost both parents.'
I thought back that we had not originally planned to take our children to the Western Wall to pray
that evening. But then I thought everything is from the Almighty, nothing just happens.'
'Sometimes I dream about the bombing scene in the pizzeria, that I am a hero and can do something
to change what happened there.'
'When I heard my sister-in-law had died, I felt intense pain like a stomach-ache in my heart. I couldn't
'At first I thought 'What did we do?' Then I thought, I believe that God builds us up so that we don't
get hurt by things like this.'
'After the restaurant bombing we felt the love of all the people, Jewish and Arab all around us. It
empowered us. We felt broken. They wanted us to be strong.'
MEDIUM AND LONGER-TERM MEMORIES AND ACTIONS
Respondents were asked what thoughts and feelings they had which helped them months and years after the
bombing, and what they did to help themselves. They were asked what things still disturbed them, what
other people did which still disturbed them, and what other people had done which had helped them.
They were asked what help they had received from psychologists, psychiatrists, bereavement counselors, art
therapists, music therapists, horticultural therapists. They were asked whether they had met with other
survivors and families of victims, and if so, whether they had found it useful. They were asked what additional help they felt they still needed, and how they could obtain it. Five respondents had consulted a psychologist, but many others had not chosen to. One said 'I am a loner'. Another said a private
psychologist was too expensive for them (300-350 shekels – US$ 80 an hour). (Health Funds and Terror Victim
Organizations do provide free psychologist services).
They were asked whether they had experienced
employment and financial difficulties after the bombing, whether they had received assistance, and what
other difficulties they continued to face (it is beyond the scope of the present report to provide information
relating to financial assistance provided by Social Security or details of financial difficulties faced by some
survivors and families of victims of suicide bombings). Terror victim support organizations do provide some
financial support for essentials such as articles of furniture, studies and training, and an organization called
Yad Sarah provides wheelchairs and medical equipment countrywide, free of charge.
"Emotional trauma is worse than physical bruising"
|'My sister and I did see a psychologist but it didn't seem to help us much. My sister turned to studying
Kabbala and that helped her.'
'I survived a 1996 bombing, but never sought any help. Now I recommend people to seek care early.
You must believe you will move on. Emotional trauma is worse than physical bruising.'
'I couldn't eat red meat for a long time after the bombing.'
"The terror victim organization took us to a hotel by the Sea of Galilee. We had therapeutic meetings.
Every three months we have a large meeting. It helps.'
'Some people are doing well – others are demolished, hard to help, their families broken up.'
'Without help you cannot rehabilitate yourself. For example I needed four special pairs of spectacles
costing 2000 shekels (US$465) each, and a total cost of NIS 8OOO (US$1860.)'
'The bereavement counsellor helped me, but I won't return there because I 'm not willing to cry
'When our band gets together to play music we see that one member is missing.'
During the three years of the project, when respondents indicated a special need, the Project was sometimes
able to link them to a terror victim support group, locate a private swimming pool for therapy for a seriously
injured young mother, recommend special computer games for children with sight injuries etc. Respondents
were asked what they were doing in the longer-term to help themselves.
"I have started to make a garden —
I, who can no longer see the flowers"
|I help my teenage son as much as I can. After 14 months we are starting to be like a 'normal' family
(Respondent, lost five family members)
'Nothing helps – until now I have not found anything useful for me.'
What keeps us strong is religion. Our Druze belief is that when you die it is because your time has
come to die.'
'My little daughter is now in a good place, with the Almighty. Knowing that helps me to bear the
'I got a pet – 1 went to the dog pound and rescued a dog, a furry animal who loves me
'I feel more positive about life, I try to smile and be kind.'
'I have started to make a garden -1 who can no longer see the flowers.'
Respondents were asked what they felt about suicide bombers and their families, and what they did when they saw another suicide bombing on TV:
"They chose a place crowded with children —
No beast in nature would do such a thing"
|'Every Arab-looking person reminds me of that bomber, but I don't feel anything against them'
'I don't want to hate, if only they can know what they do to our lives. They are people like us.'
'I consider that it was terror not Palestinians who killed my daughter. I don't believe most
Palestinians want bombings, but maybe they do.'
'They chose a place crowded with children. There is no beast in nature which is capable of doing such
'I saw a picture of the bomber with his children. I didn't want to look at it. I am glad the bomber died.
It would have been different if he had lived or been released from jail.'
'When I see another bombing I turn over to the sports channel.'
'When I see another bombing on TV I return to the day my daughter died. After knowing how many
died and were wounded I switch off the TV.'
'I don't turn off the TV-I watch it all.'
'All terrorist families should be put into a gas chamber, we should not hear about them anymore.'
'I don't feel hatred. I am angry, but I know that God will punish them. If we did something in revenge,
it would change us. So I leave it to God.' (Christian Arab)
'That son-of-a-bitch bomber! What can we say about people who kill each other. What can you expect
from them? We feel anger. '(Druze family)
'I would like to kill that suicide attacker with my own hands, they never caught him. He is not a
person -just a shadow.'
'Even bombers can't kill the joy of living.'
Respondents were asked what they wanted people to know about the consequences of suicide bombings:
"I would like people just for a second
to put themselves in our shoes"
|'People outside Israel should know what is really going on here'.
Even after surviving a suicide bombing I can still think about a two-state solution. My personal future
is not as important as the future of my country.'
'About our image -people see only images of 'occupying soldiers.'
'Ten days after 9/11, I went to New York on vacation. I felt that New Yorkers understood Israel. They
looked me in the eyes as if we had something in common.'
'I would like people just for a second to put themselves in our shoes. Are we as bad as they think?
Maybe they can feel a little empathy?'
'I want people to understand that you have to separate political and humanitarian agendas; they (the
Palestinians) have a right to express themselves but not to kill children.'
The next section of this report enables the reader to hear fuller testimonies directly from the survivors and
families of victims of suicide bombings in their own words. These necessarily brief testimonies encapsulate
painful experiences, memories, and the real consequences of suicide bombings on civilians.
The first three testimonies are from families of victims, all of whom lost family members in Jerusalem
suicide bombings. The first is a young woman of 23 who lost her mother and young niece in a bombing at a
"I saw my mother's hand -I knew it was her because of her rings."
|It was evening in Jerusalem's northern French Hill neighbourhood on 19 June 2002. Just before 7 pm
a young Arab man sprang out of a car and sprinted across the intersection to the bus stop and
hitching post which was crowded with more than four dozen people. The car sped away towards
Ramallah. A border policeman stationed at the bus stop noticed the young man and tried to stop him.
But there was no time to open fire. There was an immense explosion at the bus stop as the young man, an al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades suicide bomber, blew himself up in the middle of the crowd.
A passing motorist recalls, "When I reached the intersection there was suddenly a huge explosion and then body
parts began flying in the air". Rescue workers, their hands and boots covered in plastic, sifted through the rubble and carnage. The force of the blast had blown out the back and sides of the
hitchhiking post, leaving just the concrete bench and the roof in place. An empty baby carriage stood
Six people were killed in that bombing and 43 wounded, one critically. Among the dead was 60-year-
old retired kindergarten teacher Noa and her granddaughter, five-year-old Gal. Gal's brother
aged one and her mother Penina were both wounded. Nine months later Noa's youngest daughter 23-
year-old Y recalls, "My mother had organized a musical evening and had invited us all to attend.
It went well. Afterwards my mother, sister, niece and nephew went to Jerusalem. My brother and I
had arranged to pick them up at the French Hill bus stop.
We were at home with my father at the time of the bombing. We tried to call Penina 's cell phone, but
there was no answer. We went to Shaare Tzedek Hospital in Jerusalem. We gave them my mother's
name. Then we saw Penina. She was alive, but burned, including her hair. When I saw her alive I was
so relieved. I just put my head on her chest and cried. Then, we were told to go to the morgue. When I
saw my mother's hand I knew it was her because of her rings. We were not allowed to see her face.
Gal, my beautiful lively niece also died in the bombing. I remember the night of the bombing that
when I said goodbye to my niece, who was always a flaxen-haired bundle of energy, she had kissed
me twice on the lips.
"In a moment my life changed. It was so hard to believe. We have always been an optimistic family. I
cried. I felt shock. I felt terrible pain. In hospital each moment seemed like forever. What helped us at
that time was the volunteers from a Terror Victim Organization who brought us fruit and cake. I
couldn't eat, but seeing them helped. Their eyes said, 'We think of you, we feel for you, we care for
you.' We have a saying in Israel, 'When the clouds go you see the real picture. 'It is only later you get
to understand how life has changed. Our family was very close. My mother was the centre of our
family. Now I feel, 'Nobody can live my life, 'and the next phases of my life are up to me. If I am not
for myself, who is for me? I feel that I must help myself to move forward. I try to grab strength from
inside. I internalize what my mother would have said to me. I believe that I will still fulfill my dreams,
and still find a lifelong partner.
"Nine months later I am helped by a psychologist, and it is so useful. He makes me aware of things. I
used to enjoy ballroom dancing. Last month I returned to try and dance again. I try to go out with my
friends. They were able to give me a lot of support immediately after the bombing, but months after,
when I am alone in the evenings I feel sorrow, and I feel so alone. It is hard for them to know what I
feel. It is not easy for me to ask for help. I am not used to being in need myself. What are the things I
feel now which still disturb me? In the time immediately after the bombing I didn't blame God; but I
just don't understand Him."
The French Hill bombing was the 71st bombing in Jerusalem, the second suicide bombing within
Jerusalem in two days and the third in Israel within a two-day period.
Sources: Interview 6 March 2003, Jerusalem; E. Lefkovits, "Six Killed in North Jerusalem Attack",
Casualties of War website, Jerusalem Post, 20 June 2002
The next two boxes reflect the testimonies of a mother who lost her teenage daughter and a grandfather who
lost his teenage granddaughter, in the same bombing at the Sbarro Pizzeria in Jerusalem on 9 August 2001.
| "What disturbed me was thinking about dead children -
children of victims and wounded survivors."
|On 9 August 2001, at a busy downtown intersection in Jerusalem the Sbarro Pizzeria was crowded
with hungry lunch-time customers queuing for pizzas. At the cash point sat cashier Tehilla. Families
sat eating their pizzas. Suddenly there was a tremendous explosion as a male suicide bomber
detonated his explosives. The explosion killed 15, including 7 children, and wounded 130 people.
Among the dead was Tehilla. Her mother, Hannah, a dental assistant originally from France, recalls
what happened that day. "Someone called me to tell me about the bombing. I rushed to a hospital
desperately hoping to find my daughter there among the wounded.
I searched through all the lists of casualties. I waited there for hours. My other daughter joined me. We continued searching. When we
did not find my missing daughter, I began to think she might be dead. Then my husband called me to
say that he had found her - in the morgue in another hospital.
After the bombing, the staff of the Sbarro Pizzeria came once to see me. We got help from terror victim organization, and I went to some
meetings for bereaved families. I continued to work for nine months, but found it very difficult. My
colleagues at work did not seem to understand how I felt. I asked to be fired.
My family life became difficult. My seventeen-year-old daughter could not pursue studies because she had to work to help
us. We had some help from Social Security. They paid for two of my sons to go to university.
"After the bombing the thoughts which disturbed me were that some children who had survived that
bombing had lost their parents. In one family both parents had been killed. What helped me at that
time was religious faith and studies. I was searching for a spiritual path. I joined a daily Torah study
group. What do I feel now when I think of the bomber? I do not feel hate. Conflict and death have
existed since Biblical times. When we are all more spiritual and connected to the Almighty this
violence might stop. It depends on us. People who are bad will disappear. I am optimistic that the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict will eventually be solved."
Sources: Interview with H. in Jerusalem, 20 June 2002
"I won't see her graduate — I won't see her marry." -A grandfather's story
|On 9 August 2001, among families crowded into the Sbarro Pizzeria in downtown Jerusalem, no one
paid any particular attention to a young Arab man carrying a guitar case. Suddenly, the guitar case,
packed with explosives plus nails and metal bolts for greater impact, was detonated. The explosion
killed 15 civilians, including seven children, and wounded 130 people. Hamas and Islamic Jihad
claimed responsibility for the attack.
That evening, in the northern town of Pardess Hannah not far from Haifa, seventy-seven-year-old
grandfather Asher, a retired high school teacher and a widower, was preparing his supper. The
phone rang. It was his daughter Aviva, who worked as a nurse in the operating theatre of Shaare
Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem. She had been in the operating theatre when the dead and wounded
began to arrive from the Sbarro bombings. Suddenly, she saw that one of the patients was her own
sixteen-year-old daughter Mihal, her body riddled with nails and bolts. Aviva, already a widow after
her psychologist husband had died of a brain tumor, was bringing up four daughters alone.
Asher, Mihal's grandfather, recalls, "When I heard that Mihal was dead I said, 'Oh No!' I cried. I
couldn't believe it. Mihal had been such a vibrant girl. I thought, 'How pointless. How purposeless.'
That evening I drove to Jerusalem. Mihal's funeral was the next day. Her student friends came to visit
us. I cried for days. Some people from New York also came to show solidarity. We had lots of phone
calls, and 90 solidarity e-mails.
"The week before Mihal died we had gone on an outing with her friends to visit an ancient fortress set
high in the northern mountains. Her girlfriends still come to visit me. It is hard knowing she is not
here with them. Every year on the anniversary of her death I have a party. I tell jokes, and that helps
me to get by. I also write a diary. I am a loner, very independent. I just grapple with things by myself.
I don't bare my soul often. I tend to live on the surface, taking every day as it comes. I listen to the
news 3-4 times a day. I enjoy classical music and gardening. I have very good friends and I have felt
they have been with me all the way.
When I was in England in Devon and Yorkshire I met people who
were supportive when I said I was from Israel. My father was a tailor in England. He used to make
funeral suits for people. There was a difference in the way they behaved after bereavement and what
we did. They would go to the pub and get drunk after a funeral and we would just sit and cry for a
week. I have a great deal of good fortune and a wonderful family. When I think of Mihal now I think,
'I won't see her graduate. I won't see her marry. I worry about my other nine grandchildren. But I
know if there are no phone calls things are OK. This is our reality in Israel. There is no other way.
We just have to carry on."
Sources: Interview 2 February 2004 with A. H.
Further south, in Tel Aviv, two mothers were interviewed who had lost teenage children in the suicide
bombing of the Dolphinarium discotheque on 1 June 2001.
"Israeli mothers never send their children to bomb Palestinian children"
|It was nearly midnight on 1 June 2001 as crowds of teenagers waited in line outside the
Dolphinarium Disco on Tel Aviv's seafront promenade. A warm breeze rustled the nearby palm trees.
The teenagers were looking forward to a night of music and dancing. A young male suicide bomber
worked his way into the heart of the crowd. As he detonated the explosives strapped to his body the
night turned instantly into one of carnage.
Twenty-one teenagers aged 14-21 died and 90 were
wounded. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility, and in Ramallah and parts of Gaza the news was
greeted with dancing and jubilation, and Hizballah's Manar television station heaped praise on the
The German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer was staying at a nearby hotel. Next day
he laid flowers at the blood-stained site. All but one of those killed were from the former Soviet
Union. The explosive device had been filled with screws, nails and ball bearings to make it as deadly
Zeniya, mother of young dental technician Roma, one of the victims, recalls, "Two days
before the Dolphinarium bombing, Roma recorded songs in a professional recording studio. That
night he came home late. I had cooked fried chicken wings and shishliks (meat on skewers), all things
that he liked. Then he took a shower. He complained of tiredness, something he had done before
during that week, maybe a premonition. I told him in a few days his studies would be over. He was a
dental technician but eventually wanted to study medicine. He went to sleep.
Then his friend Illya phoned. I wanted him to go on sleeping but he woke up.
After his friend arrived I heard them planning to go out later that evening. His friend left and we ate
our Sabbath eve meal. After the meal Roma put on his jeans and a shirt. Illya arrived and I asked
them where they were going. They said they had not decided. Three girls also went with them, one
"After they went out I watched TV and fell asleep on the sofa. I always waited every night for my son
when he is out for him to return. At 12.30 Illya's father telephoned for the number of Roma's
cellphone. I said, 'Why do you need it? 'He said the Dolphinarium had been bombed. Friends of Roma
called to know where he was. Half an hour later I was in the car with Illya's father heading towards
the Wolfson hospital. The TV had announced casualties were going there. We rushed to look at the list
of dead, but the names of our children were not on it. A policewoman then told us to go to the Abu
Kabir Forensic Institute. I didn't want to go. We went to another hospital, but did not find our
Ruth Bar-On from Selah, the Israel Crisis Management Centre, was waiting for us and
helped us very much. We were each given someone to escort us. Somebody took me to Abu Kabir; I
don't remember who it was. It was dawn when we got there. They asked us who we were looking for.
They wanted Roma's identity card number.
"It was dawn. They told me to go inside to identify my son. I could not go. I telephoned my cousin, and
he drove from Tel Aviv. He went inside instead of me to identify my son. I felt cold in my body. They
brought me an envelope containing Roma's identity card, keys, personal objects. In those minutes my
"There are many mothers in Israel like me with almost no family around them, but they do not have
such tragedies. Roma was a good-natured, lively son who loved his friends and small children. He
was not only my son but my friend. We talked a lot. He didn't go out without a goodbye kiss. Later
when I spoke publicly in Moscow and a woman said, 'Not only your children but also Palestinian
children are getting killed.' I said to her, 'The difference between Israeli and Palestinian mothers is
the Israeli mothers never send their children to bomb Palestinian children.'
I think that people outside should know that terror can knock on their own doors any time. I have traveled to other countries to
explain the Dolphinarium tragedy from a mother's point of view. What diplomats cannot do, maybe
we terror victims can do. We speak in the name of our dead children; they live in us."
Roma, Genia and another friend died in the suicide bombing and their friends were wounded. Instead
of a graduation party, there was a memorial evening. A play was presented, and someone read
Roma's part. The education minister announced that matriculation exams would be deferred for those
students whose classmates had been killed or wounded.
Sources: Interview with Z.in Tel Aviv, 16 December 2003; D. Rudge, " Bomb
Horror Hits Tel Aviv Disco," Jerusalem Post, 1 June 2001; "Dolphinarium: Terror Targets the
Young" published by the Mikhail Chernoy Foundation, Second Edition 2002. Published by Verba
Publishers, P.O Box 6356, Jerusalem 91066
Another mother, an immigrant without close relatives, whose teenage daughter also died in the
Dolphinarium bombing recalls what happened that night.
"Her condition improved — but she never woke up."
|"I was at a birthday party with friends in a restaurant on 1 June 2001, and my daughter Karen had
gone out for the evening. At 2 am, after the party, we were told of the bombing of the Dolphinarium. A
friend tried to call my daughter Karen on her cell phone. There was no answer. Still I was calm. But
when I got home Karen was not there. I did not worry. Sometimes she returned from a disco at 5 am.
"A neighbour knocked on my door. He said maybe Karen and friends were hospitalized in Tel Aviv. I
still felt nothing, like it wasn't touching me. I was alone. I didn't know what to do. There was no phone
in our home. I had bought a cell phone for Karen when the Intifada started. On TV it showed the
number of the hospital. I wondered when and where to telephone from. Then a friend with a car
arrived and said 'Come with me.' We went to the Wolfson hospital to check if Karen was there. But
no, she was not. Then we went to the Ichilov hospital. When we arrived we saw relatives of casualties
lying on the floor screaming. The man who had brought me had to go and see his own wounded
daughter. I stayed alone. The screaming encircled me. A friend of Karen's came and asked me where
is Karen? I held her hand and asked her to stay with me.
"A man came to ask who I was looking for. I remember him well. He said, 'Come with me. 'He had
two pictures, of a girl and a boy. My heart felt like a stone. Then a woman showed me a picture of
Karen. It was my girl, my daughter, covered with blood, and attached to tubes. Suddenly I saw for the
first time how she looked like my mother. I said, "That is Karen.' The woman asked me to fill in some
forms. I said that I didn't want to fill in forms. Or see Karen. A social worker took me to the
emergency room where Karen was. I saw that she moved. The social worker called the doctors. Then
I myself felt great pain in my heart. They took me to the cardiology ward. Later, I lay as a patient,
next to my wounded daughter.
"After ten days they removed Karen's breathing apparatus. Her condition had improved a bit
although she was unconscious. But she never woke up. Nineteen days later she died. I had sat next to
her day and night. They had said she could not live, but I couldn't believe them. I kept thinking it will
be OK. Maybe I shouldn't have agreed to disconnect her. I partly blame myself that she died. Perhaps
I was not a good 'guard'. Another mother of a Dolphinarium casualty kept asking the hospital staff all
the time about her own daughter. Today her daughter is alive, but disabled.
"The hospital staff told me I had to take good care of myself. Many people helped me at that time,
Jews, Christians, singers, professionals, organizations, and other wounded teenagers who had
survived the bombing. They called me 'the iron mother.' A family in Tiberius still writes to me every
holiday, and takes me shopping. Jewish Americans helped me with money. Selah (the Israel Crisis
Management Center) is like family to me. I lost my child -1 lost everything. After such a tragedy some
people sit and cry. I am active. I perpetuate the memory of our children who died. I speak against
Everyone asks me if I regret coming to live in Israel. I was born in Uzbekistan, bought
up in Russian culture, and got higher education in Tashkent. We had roots there, my parents are
buried there. But so many Jews had left that I thought who will my daughter marry. I have no work,
no job. Now I have lost what I had. People in the outside world should see, not only hear about what
really happens here."
Sources: Interview with F. D. December 2003; "Dolphinarium Terror Targets the Young"
In 2002 a suicide bombing in the Cafe Moment in Jerusalem killed eleven civilians and wounded fifty-four.
The next respondent lost her daughter in that bombing.
"My husband kept saying, 'Limor is gone. Limor is gone.'"
|The trendy Cafe Moment stood on a corner of one of the tree-lined streets of the up-market streets of
the upscale Jerusalem neighbourhood of Rehavia. On the evening of 9 March 2002, at 10.30 pm it
was packed. Twenty-seven year old Limor, a beautiful brown-eyed cashier at a German company's
Jerusalem outlet, was sitting with friends. Two of them got up to buy cigarettes and another went to
the rest room. Limor stayed at the table. At 10.30 pm the cafe was rocked by a huge explosion. Amid
the debris of broken chairs, upturned tables, half-eaten meals and cappuccinos, were strewn body
parts. Al-Aqsa and Hamas claimed responsibility for the bombing.
At the Cafe Moment 11 people were killed, among them Limor. Fifty-four young people were
wounded, ten seriously. Limor's mother, whose parents were originally impoverished refugees from
Syria in the early nineteen twenties recalled that night: "At the time of the Cafe Moment bombing I
was in bed. I heard about another suicide bombing at the Jeremy Cafe in the coastal town of Netanya
(where at 7pm two suicide attackers armed with rifles and grenades killed 10 people and wounded 50,
four critically). I had said to myself, I have nobody in Netanya.
"Then my husband came in and told me that Limor, our youngest daughter had gone out to Cafe
Moment that evening. Later he came back and told me about the suicide bombing at Cafe Moment. He
kept saying, 'Limor is gone... Limor is gone. Where is Limor?' Then our other daughter, our son and
his wife and children arrived. We phoned all the hospitals in Jerusalem. Our two sons went to various
hospitals, hoping Limor was among the wounded. Limor's friends phoned to find out if she was all
right. She had many friends. When one of our sons finally found Limor she was lying on the floor, and
he couldn't look at her. His other brother had identified her. Then he had phoned us and just said,
'Yes.' Later he told us, 'She looked asleep, not wounded.' We were crying. My first thought was, 'My
life is ruined.'
"What helped me at the time was that my family are all close and they were all around us at that time.
I went to Limor's room and all her dresses were still in the cupboard; they are still in the cupboard. A
social worker gave us a lot of help. A week later, a One Family representative came to see us and
asked how they could help. One time they took us to a hotel in Tiberius next to the Sea of Galilee. We
had therapeutic group sessions. We talked about our losses, and it was good for us. I got to know
many bereaved parents from the Cafe Moment bombing. All the families at the hotel had lost members
in suicide bombings. One Family still sends us flowers and gifts on the festivals.
"At the time of the bombing I worked in the Department of Trade and Industry. My colleagues were
very supportive. They all knew Limor because she had worked there at one time. My children and
grandchildren also helped me to continue, to get through that time. Now, when I see another suicide
bombing on TV I remember all my feelings two years ago. I pity the victims and their families. I feel
what they feel. It breaks my heart. I don't turn off the TV. I watch it all. My husband is still broken.
Limor was his youngest daughter. We didn't think Limor would go first. We only want peace; we don't
want war. We know the Arabs don't want peace. What can we do?"
On the night of 9 March 2002 in two cafe suicide attacks a total of 21 young civilians were killed, and
104 wounded, 14 seriously. What other country would tolerate such a massacre?
Sources: Interview with T. Ben S. February 2004; Casualties of War, Jerusalem
The next testimonies are of two survivors of suicide bombings in Jerusalem in Cafe Rimon and Cafe Hillel, a family of a victim of a suicide attack on Kibbutz Metzer near Hadera, and a family of a victim of a suicide
bus bombing in Haifa.
"What upset me most was the sight of people without arms and legs."
|Friends from boyhood in France, L. and E. had been inseparable for 26 years. They had
moved to Israel together, and served in the army together. Now they were civilians again. On 1
December 2001, at 9 pm, L. was sitting with friends in Cafe Rimon in Jerusalem. A male suicide
bomber detonated his bomb. L. doesn't remember what happened after that. He was badly
wounded. For one month he was unconscious in Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital, and his doctors
doubted he would survive. Finally he regained consciousness, but his memory was gone. He could not
recognize his own family, and he was partly paralyzed on his right side, with a metal ball embedded
in his brain.
E. went into action. He became a central part of L's rehabilitation, accompanying him daily
to therapy sessions for a year. L. still had the metal ball embedded in his head. Doctors could
remove it. When they went out and L. passed through metal detectors, the alarm sounded. With
a devoted companion, a loving family and friends, L slowly recovered, helped also by a daily 8
am – 4 pm therapy pioneered by the world renowned Professor Feuerstein.
Last year, in the cool Jerusalem autumn, E. went out alone one evening to the nearby Cafe Hillel. It
was 10:40 pm. He saw a male suicide bomber exploding. He recalls the night of the Cafe Hillel
bombing. "There was a terrible noise, I threw myself onto the ground, grabbed a chair and put it over
my head .1 did not lose consciousness. I felt pain from a penetrating wound in my hip. What upset me
most was the sight of people around me without arms and legs. Then, helped by my friends, I got up
slowly. Ambulances quickly arrived. I planned to walk home, but I was taken in an ambulance to
hospital. My mother and sister arrived that night, and next day I went home."
L., in his apartment just a few streets away, had been awakened by the blast. Turning on the TV
he saw E. being carried away in an ambulance. He could see his friend was still alive. For him it
was like a 'TV repeat'- but this time switching roles.
When L. and E. were interviewed in March 2004, they were surrounded by a group of warm-
hearted and humorous young friends. Because of his memory loss, L. still could not recall the
events of the night of the Cafe Rimon bombing a year and a half earlier when his whole life was
changed. He had made some progress. His rehabilitation appeared to be a determined, sensitive and
'group activity' on the part of E. close family, loyal friends, physiotherapists and neurologists.
E. considered that what helped him primarily to continue his busy life was his own determination and
optimistic character, and his joy of living. But L. is desperate to regain his memory. He still
lives with a metal ball embedded in his head. He says that he hopes that suicide bombings will cease.
He is no longer able to work. His rehabilitation is a group activity involving his family, E. and his
friends together with therapists. They wanted to be interviewed to be able to reveal the real
consequences of suicide bombings.
Sources: Interview 10 March 2004 in Jerusalem in French; Article in Maariv newspaper September
2003; Casualties of War, Jerusalem Post
In the northern hills, not far from the coastal town of Hadera, a suicide attack in November 2002 targeted a
"I was shaking and worrying how to tell his mother,
who is a Holocaust survivor."
|The pansies and cyclamen made bright splashes of colour against the fresh green of the spring grass.
Beyond the hedge were the red-tiled roofs of family homes in Kibbutz Metzer, which is located just
inside the so-called 'green-line', south of Haifa. Beyond the roofs, in the distance, were minarets
protruding from a hillside Arab town quietly basking in the March sunshine. Kibbutz Metzer was
renowned for its good relationship with its Arab neighbours. They used to attend each others
Sixteen months earlier, on the night of 11 November 2002, kibbutz secretary Yitzhak aged 44
was at a school meeting. He heard shots and went outside. A terrorist had infiltrated the Kibbutz. He
saw the man, fired several shots at him, but was hit himself. The terrorist had entered a house and
pumped bullets into two brothers 4 and 5 years old and their mother as they were having a bedtime
story read to them in their bedroom. He killed another civilian then fled across darkened fields back
to the West Bank. Yitzhak died of his wounds.
His widow T. aged 34, a teacher, recalls, "It was Sunday. Yitzhak and I had finished supper.
Then he went out to a school meeting. I was watching TV when I heard loud shots, very close. I knew
something was wrong. I called the kibbutz manager, but he didn't know what was happening. Five
minutes later all kibbutz families were told by phone to close all doors and windows, turn out lights
and hide. There were two more rounds of shots. I tried to phone Yitzhak. His cell phone did not
answer. I heard on the radio that three people had been seriously wounded and that two were dead.
"I knew Yitzhak had been at the gate of the kibbutz. I still thought, 'He will come, he's busy. 'He had
been an officer in the army and he knew what to do. I called neighbours who said they thought they
had heard Yizak's voice. I stopped worrying for a while. Later I called them again. They said maybe it
was not Yitzhak they had heard. At three o'clock in the morning the Head of the kibbutz and the
secretary arrived at my house. They didn't have to say anything I knew what they had come to tell me.
Until they came I had still been optimistic. The whole kibbutz had known that Yitzhak was dead before
I cried and yelled, 'Why him!' Our three-year-old daughter Yael was asleep. When she awoke
she knew something was wrong and she started to scream. They heard it at the end of the kibbutz. I
was shaking, and worrying how to tell his mother, who was a Holocaust survivor. I felt that heaven
had fallen. It was like an earthquake. Then the social worker came. I told our daughter Yael that her
father had died, but that he 'had not left us'. She didn't understand. I dressed her and took her to
nursery school. The other children kept telling her that her father was dead. I felt so helpless.
"A meeting was called for giving guidance to the children. A bereavement counselor came. She told
me that what had happened was terrible, but not the end of the world. She advised me to choose life,
especially as I am a mother. Those words gave me strength. I had to maintain routine for Yael's sake,
and I continued my studies. I continued to teach and it helped me to cope. There were thousands of
people at the funeral, but I didn't go to the funeral. Maybe it would have been better if I had gone.
Yitzhak died defending his home. Terror shot him while he did his duty. We plan to erect a memorial
to him, a drinking fountain at a natural spring at a picnic place where families can go. I miss him. I
have to make so many decisions alone. I gave a party for Yael's fourth birthday recently, but I felt a
hole in my heart. I still see Yitzhak living, not dead."
The terrorist, from the West Bank town of Tulkarm, was caught nine months after the incident.
The attack at Kibbutz Metzer had taken place at the same time as Hamas and Fatah officials were
meeting in Cairo to talk about 'unity and the cessation of suicide bombings inside Israel.'
Sources: Interview at Kibbutz Metzer, 19 March 2004; D. Rudge, "Terrorist Kills Five, Including
Mother, Two Young Sons," Jerusalem Post, 12 December 2002 in "Casualties of War"; Christian
Friends of Israel, "A New Surge of Terror," Israel News Digest, December 2002
North of Kibbutz Metzer is the coastal city of Haifa. In March 2003 a suicide bomber targeted a civilian bus
on a highway not far from Haifa in the Wadi Ara area, where several suicide bombing attacks have taken
"Our daughter — with burn marks on her neck and hair a little melted"
|On the afternoon of Wednesday, 5 March 2003, Egged bus 37 wound its way along Haifa's mountain
top Sderot Moriah, the main thoroughfare that overlooks the large bay and port. The bus was packed
with university students and schoolchildren. The Christian Arab driver opened the doors to let people
exit. Suddenly an immense explosion shattered the afternoon calm.
The driver recalls, "When I opened my eyes I saw that the whole bus had been destroyed, and people were lying on the floor. I
didn't feel anything. I didn't hear anything. I saw blood all over my arms. I tried to get out and people
gave me water and a chair. Other people started running towards the bus to help."
The bomb was medium-sized (8 kilos), and had been packed with shrapnel for greater effect. The
force of the bomb caused damage to cars as far as 30 metres away.
One passenger on that bus was a sixteen-year-old girl who had come out of school earlier than usual
that afternoon because a teachers' meeting was scheduled. Her mother, an American Christian living
in Israel, recalls, "I was working at home that afternoon. Suddenly a friend called to ask if everyone
was home. I said yes, except my eldest daughter who was still at school. Then I turned on the TV and
saw that there had been a bombing close to her school. I tried to phone her, then the friend who
usually travelled with her. I called the hospital. No news.
"Our pastor checked with the hospital and finally got through. They said to come as several people
had been brought in and were in surgery. My husband and I leapt into our car and drove towards the
hospital. On the way a social worker called us to say that our pastor had identified our daughter. We
arrived at the hospital and saw our pastor. He was in tears. By this time we were with a social
worker, a psychologist and another doctor whom we knew. It helped to see our own doctor come
down the stairs. When our pastor told us our daughter was dead, I felt numb. I went into 'automatic.' I
thought, 'What do I need to do next?'
"It was a long way to the morgue. A doctor spoke to us outside. He told us our daughter had died
instantly from blast injuries. A policeman took us into the morgue. They uncovered her face, and we
saw her. Her body was whole, but she had burn marks on her neck, and her hair was a little melted.
What upset me most was having to rush through the identification. There were other families outside
waiting to identify their own loved ones. When we came out we had to fill out paperwork in Hebrew.
We had to call people to pick up our other kids from school. Our kids knew by then that their sister
was dead. A friend went to stay with them. When we got home we all cried together. Everyone said
something special about our daughter. People came by until late that night to try to comfort us. I slept
a maximum of one hour that whole night. The social worker did a lot to help us. He came every day
and took care of the details. Friends were amazing, they provided food and cleaned the house.
When I think back now, nine months later, I wish they hadn't let our pastor identify our daughter's
body. I wish my husband and I had been the ones to identify her. We could have hoped a little longer.
She didn't belong to somebody else. In the summer we went to the U.S.A. We were still not used to our daughter not being with us. We saw her friends when we were on holiday there, but she herself was
not there. When I see another suicide bombing on TV, I return to that day when our daughter died;
after I know how many people have died and been wounded, I turn off the TV.
I don't think much about the suicide bombers and their families. I consider it was
terrorists, not Palestinians, who killed my daughter. I don't believe the majority of Palestinians want
such bombings, but maybe they do ... It is too soon for my family to see something positive from our
daughter's death, but I do believe something good can emerge. I believe God can turn evil to good."
The wounded from Bus 37 included Jews, Druze, Christian Arabs, and immigrants – a complete mix
of Israel's multi-ethnic society. The Rehov Moriah bus bombing was the first attack in the Haifa area
in 11 months, since a previous bus bombing near Kibbutz Yagur near Haifa in April had killed eight
people and wounded 22. In the previous December 2001, a bus bombing in Haifa had killed fifteen
people and wounded 40, several critically.
Sources: Interview with H.L, Haifa, 10 December 2003; D. Izenberg, "Haifa Bus Bombing Kills 15,
Wounds Dozens"; D. Rudge, "Hamas Terrorist carried Letter Praising 9/11 Attacks in U.S; Most
Casualties Are Students" and "Israeli Arab Bus Driver Tells of Blast" in Jerusalem Post, March 6
The next three respondents were survivors of suicide bombings in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and the northern
town of Afula. The first survivor is a young jazz musician, the next a young mother from a religious family,
and the final respondent is a vascular surgeon. First, the twenty-three-year-old jazz musician whose outlook
in many ways typifies the feelings, attitudes and aspirations of many young secular Israelis.
"Half of the body of the suicide bomber was stuck up on the ceiling."
|On the evening of 30 April 2003, two British-born male suicide bombers entered the crowded and
popular Tel Aviv seafront pub called Mike's Place. A large crowd of mostly young people were
listening to the 'jam session', enjoying the music and relaxing over drinks. Across the road,
Mediterranean waves foamed onto the beach. Suddenly there was an explosion at the entrance to the
pub which killed three people and wounded 63.
Noam, a twenty-three-year-old jazz musician recalls,
"I was waiting near the stage with my group ready to play the guitar. Suddenly there was a burst of
fire into the pub. It took a few seconds for the band to stop playing. The noise even sounded as if it
could have been apart of the music. It went completely dark – and quiet.
Then people started screaming. Some people went to help the injured because some people have training to do that. I went
with my group looking for another exit. We didn't find one. We had to go out of the front entrance. I
seemed to be 'watching everything from above'- somehow outside of my self. I felt mentally detached.
I saw people crying, but I couldn't relate to them. I was focused, not in a panic. I put my shirt over my
mouth to prevent dust and debris entering my lungs. The hardest thing was waiting inside, not
knowing if there was going to be another bomb" (there have been double bombings in other places).
"Outside in the street it was like hell. People were lying around burned, but still alive. There were
half-dead people – some missing body parts. The brother of a fellow guitarist had lost his arm.
Another friend, a base player, was burned all over his body. Half of the body of the suicide bomber
was stuck up on the ceiling. I had seen the bomber drinking beer. He looked like a young British
'heavy-metal' kid. He looked as if he didn't care about this world. The bombing happened while
people were actually playing music.
"After the bombing I couldn't work for a week. I didn't play my guitar the rest of the month. What I
think now, over four months later, is 'They can take my arm, but not my sense of humour. They have to
kill me before that'. Now, I still sometimes feel distress, with tightness in the chest, and tense arm
muscles. I feel that I won't give in to hate, no way, or else we will have to kill them all.
My political views have not changed. The only way is to have a Palestinian state. I am thinking about a future for
both peoples. But we need to be patient, and wait maybe 40-50 years. I don't want such things to
happen to my granddaughter. (The Palestinians) are 'children of terror', 'children of occupation'; they
still have hatred. Only by starting now in another generation might the hatred diminish. Now, four and a half months later, when I see other bombings on TV, I turn off the TV or go over to the sports channels. But my personal problems are one thing, and the future of my country is another issue. I am not sitting at home waiting for peace. If I was outside Israel, I would return to it. Now when I get together with my group to play music, we sometimes feel back in the bombing time. But, we are still playing and we have a big engagement coming up soon." Noam believed that the bombers could wreak havoc, but ultimately they could not 'stop the music'.
Sources: Interview with N. in Tel Aviv, 19 September 2003
The next respondent is a young religiously observant mother who survived a Jerusalem suicide bombing.
Following her testimony is that of her own mother, who recalls her own feelings after the bombing.
Shrapnel and metal balls – and a baby with a hole in her arm
|On Tuesday 19 August 2003, bus number 2 wound its way at 9.15 pm from the Western Wall, the only
remaining visible part of the ancient Jewish Temple. The bus was packed with religious families who
were returning from prayer. Chana, aged 26, was sitting with her three-year-old daughter Tehilla
asleep on her lap, next to her five-month-old baby sister Shoshana. Their six-year-old sister Yehudit
stood nearby. But, not every passenger had been to pray. A suicide bomber from Hebron, dressed as a
religious Jew, detonated his explosive belt.
Chana recalls, "When I came to I heard people saying
there had been a bombing. Everything was blurry. I was moaning with the pain of my hip and I was
lying down on a stretcher on the way to hospital. It was like a dream, and I thought 'It can't be real'.
In surgery, I was partly conscious. I was trying to move my hands and feet so people would know I
could hear. But I couldn't move them. I was afraid.
"I had shrapnel in my right eye and my face was torn. My ribs and my hip were broken and my spleen
torn. I had many metal pellets in my body. My other internal organs were not injured. for that I was
grateful to the Almighty. All the time I was very concerned about my daughter Tehilla. I spoke on the
phone to my injured husband who had a broken shoulder and foot, a torn cornea in his eye, and was
in another hospital. I kept asking about my missing daughter Tehilla. I was told they hadn't found her.
I felt for certain that she had died because they were not finding her. One day passed. I wanted to be
told the truth because the heart still hopes. Then, my husband told me the truth. I felt strong pain.
Looking back now it would have been better if they had told me earlier that she had died, even though
they had noticed a pulse when they first found her. Tehilla was dead, killed by a head injury – a metal
ball from the bomb.
"After surgery my mother came to me; it was a great relief. I was in hospital for 12 days. My thoughts
at first, through the strong sedation, were that everything is from G-d. The nurses and doctors were
nice, and even when I changed wards some continued to visit me. It was more than just a job to them.
There were even volunteers who came to stay in hospital at night with me because I kept waking from
the pain. They helped me by heating a pad to ease the pain. I still keep in touch with them. One time I
thought of a Harry Potter book I had been reading where it says 'pain is what makes you human'. It
gave me strength. It made me think that pain is our strength. I also felt I should be grateful for the
physical pain which stopped me from fully feeling the emotional pain, which would have torn me up.
There was less room in my heart for that terrible emotional pain.
"Today life is a continuous struggle. The thought which helps me now to deal with what happened it is
that everything is from G-d, nothing 'just happens'. We know basically that even pain can be for good,
although we may not feel so at the time. But the more time goes by I realize just how terrible the
bombings are. I know that Tehilla is in a good place. It helps to ease the pain of loss. I just miss her.
The pain of loss follows you all along the way. A child is so full of life. The greatest wound is the loss.
It helps when people show me they care; it means a lot. I am touched by acts of kindness, like
someone bringing me a cake. The bone in my hip still hasn't come together; it was crushed. I still have
at least one metal ball inside my chest and it could cause infections. My baby Shoshana still has a
hole in her arm. I can hardly bear to look at it. My family wants this terrible experience to somehow
bring good things. When you see death face to face, you wish to live a more fulfilled life."
Sources: Interview with C. N, 13 January 2004
A month after her daughter was critically wounded by the Hebron suicide bomber, Chana's mother Bracha
gave a talk to a small group about her experience and feelings. That bombing had been the one hundred and
third since the second Intifada began in September 2000.
The Glass Half Full – or Half Empty? Seeing Beyond the Gate of Tears
|Bracha's daughter, son-in-law and six-year-old granddaughter Yehudit had been wounded and her
three-year-old granddaughter Tehilla had died. All in a few seconds as the explosion had ripped
apart the crowded Jerusalem bus. Bracha recalled, "In the midst of tragedy I have been able to see
wonderful things taking place... It's like looking at a glass half full-instead of half empty. In today's
world all gates of heaven are closed- except the gate of tears. We can feel ourselves as part of a
larger picture – miracles within the tragedy. Victims of terror make 'one single family'.
My daughter and her family were travelling on bus number 2.1 have always felt safe on that bus. It is usually full of
good people. "But, on that night, shortly before 9.15 pm, a suicide bomber from Hebron, who was an
Imam who had studied theology, had taught Koran and graduated from the Palestine Polytechnic
University (according to his cousin) boarded bus number 2 disguised as a religious Jew. He carried
in his bag 5 kilos of explosives, mixed with nails and metal balls. He made his way to the middle of the
bus so as to cause the maximum number of casualties. Jerusalem hospital officials called this
bombing 'The attack on the children'.
It exacted an unusually heavy toll on the young. At least 5 of the
20 people killed were children or infants, the youngest three months old. One third of the more than
100 people wounded were also youngsters, children whose parents, brothers or sisters were wounded
An hour after the bombing, amid the carnage of the bus, a rescue worker looking for the remains of
the suicide bomber, thought he heard a cry. Sifting through the rubble, he lifted up five month old
Shoshana, bloodied but still alive. He recalls, "From this terrible inferno of bloody, burned bodies, I
lifted a baby alive and unhurt. "It was just like a birth – underneath the destruction I found life."
Shoshana's three-year-old sister Tehilla (which means 'Psalm') had been asleep on her mother's lap
when the blast occurred. Perhaps she had an instant death. When Tehilla's small shrouded body was
buried it had felt whole, and her face had been recognizable.
Bracha again recalls, "My granddaughter, six-year-old Yehudit was 'lightly wounded'with shrapnel
wounds in her neck. The first miracle is that they were only millimetres away from her jugular vein.
My son-in -law, standing in that bus with his wife who had two young children on her lap, flew
through the doors when the bus exploded, and landed a long distance away. He had fractured his feet,
collarbone, and had an injury to his eye. The second miracle was that Shoshana had a pacifier in her
mouth at the time of the bomb blast. When we saw her face looked red from second-degree burns, but
her mouth showed the outline of the pacifier. She could still suck. The pacifier had also prevented her
from suffocating from fire debris inhalation. She had two ball bearings removed from her small body.
They were less damaging than nails. She was on resuscitation until her lungs cleared out, and later
she was fed through a naso-gastric tube, which she did not care for. At last she was allowed breast
milk from her wounded mother, and she smiled.
"My daughter Chana blacked out when the bomb exploded. She came to in Hadassah hospital, her hip
smashed, face lacerated. Her eye was injured. She underwent surgery twice. A surgeon put a metal
plate in her hip. Five metal balls were removed from her body. A lot of shrapnel had lodged in her
body and chest. The wounds on her chest kept leaking milk. She had to change her position every five
minutes. The next miracle was that the metal balls did not hit her other vital organs, except for her
spleen. A week later she was walking with a walker and breast-feeding on both sides. She later had
surgery three more times. But, other metal balls remained in her body."
Bracha recalls what happened later that night. "We got a phone call at 12.30. We had to go to the
Forensic Institute. My first reaction on hearing of the bombing had been to scream. You scream from
the deepest part of you. It is just pain. It breaks through into the heavens. You just have to go into
'automatic'. A few hours later the tears fall. In the hospital my daughter, heavily sedated, kept saying
"Where is my husband, where are my children?" We found out next day at 6pm that Tehilla had been
killed. Volunteers from terror victim support organizations were wonderful. Anything you needed they
appeared with – even a microwave oven so that our strict food laws could be observed. It made me
feel that I too want to reach out and connect with people to help them.
"In the Trauma Recovery Room at the hospital the news media were for the first time let in. I agreed
to speak to a U.S. television crew. I didn't know what I was going to say. I just thought, 'The Almighty
will give me the words.' I talked about miracles and connecting to the Almighty. Nothing will work to
get us out of this mess – only the Almighty." The TV reporter was amazed at my attitude. I said to him,
'If you want to help me, pray, and take it upon yourselves to become better people.'
Sources: Talk by B.P.T, 14 September 2003; Lefkovits, E, "A Baby Survives the Inferno" The Jerusalem Post, Thursday 21 August 2003
The next testimony is that of a vascular surgeon who survived a suicide bombing in a shopping mall in the northern town of Afula. His testimony illustrates particularly the indiscriminatory targeting of the suicide bombers and those who send them.
A surgeon remembers – "The sight of me scared them,
my right eye was hanging out. I was on fire."
|The 500-bed hospital of HaEmeq, serves an ethnically mixed population of around half a million in
the northern town of Afula. In the distance, across a broad valley the town of Jenin is clearly visible.
Not far from the hospital is the Ha-Amakim Shopping Mall.
In the early evening of Monday 19 May 2003, a vascular surgeon from the hospital headed toward the mall to return a family video, called
'Chaos'. He stood at the mall entrance waiting for the security check, behind a young Arab woman.
He noticed that she had sweat on her neck. The security guard's electronic device sounded as he
searched the woman. The surgeon recalls, "I didn't think something might happen. I thought maybe it
was a key which was setting off the alarm. It was a bomb. There was a great explosion. Afterwards I
saw only darkness. I didn't lose consciousness. I thought, 'What is going on here? I have never had an
experience like this.'
I started to think rapidly of a differential diagnosis – maybe it was an electrical
short, maybe I had been indirectly shocked by the current so I lost my vision. If that was so, I might
take a week to recover. I thought if my eyes were injured, I could not operate tomorrow. It means that
my life was changed that very moment, if I could not see anymore. I felt no pain, although the bomb
had exploded in my face. I thought, if I can't see, there needs to be a second bomb because I don't
want to live. But, at the same time, I thought, if I die, what about my family? I thought of their survival
and flung myself to the ground, pretending to be dead. I heard nothing.
"Then I started to feel pain. I felt miserable - although I knew this happens to so many fellow Israelis.
You think it is something which happens to other people, but now it's you that feels miserable. I raised
myself from the ground and clapped my hands to attract attention. I called 'Is there anyone there?'
Everything was dark. Someone shouted, 'He's alive.' The sight of me must have scared them. My right
eye was hanging out, and I was on fire. I called for help – but no one came. I was black and burning.
"I was taken to my own hospital. I was shocked to find that people who were giving orders there about
patients didn't recognize me. I said, 'Don't you know me – you work with me.' Then they recognized
me. From their reactions, I thought that it was now I who had to encourage them. Then I started to
think, 'Will I be able to see someday?' I heard the staff asking after my CT scan if 'the doctor' could
give someone their results. Then I heard someone say 'It's not him who is accompanying the patient,
he IS the patient. 'I was worried. Then my wife came. By then I was feeling more pain. I even asked if
I am not going to see again, please put something in my veins let me go to heaven.
"They took me by plane to hospital in Haifa as they had seen a clot on my brain. I had an operation to
save my remaining eye. The other was removed. I stayed a month in hospital. Then, I started to realize
that I could not return to surgery. I had hoped I would have partial sight. When I went home I had to
walk with my hands out in front of me to avoid hitting the wall. I couldn't see my children clearly or
the lights. I had another operation. I started to lecture two months ago as a consultant, lecturing to
medical students. I am thinking about changing my profession.
"The staff at my hospital in Afula include Christian and Moslem Arabs. They received me with evident
sympathy. Their situation as Palestinians is very complicated. I used to be a dominant person there a
vascular surgeon. I used to love diving. Today, I feel no hatred for the Palestinians. But families who
send their daughters to kill indiscriminately should be banished. Imagine, if my son went to kill dogs
people would think 'How cruel'. The terrorists think of us as Israeli beasts. They see us bleeding, with
eyes hanging out on our cheeks. It is cruel to kill puppies. Imagine, what would people think if you
killed 1,000 puppies? Is it not more cruel to kill humans?
In the Maxim's bombing the bombers deliberately chose a place that was crowded with families and children. There is no beast in nature
which would be capable of doing that. Even the shark only bashes you until he is not angry anymore.
The Palestinian aristocracy 'don't send their sons and daughters to kill. Some suicide bombers have
been paid as little as 10 Euros, enough to buy ten falafels (a popular Israeli snack). What is the
message 'I can kill others because I am so hungry'? They are told - the more you kill -the more
virgins you will get.
"When people outside Israel want to treat Israelis and Palestinians on equal terms, how can they?
The security fence may have taken their olive trees, but they have taken the years of my life. But today
I say thank you to the Almighty for being able to see with one eye. I now know the difference between
seeing and not seeing. And as I cannot see, I try to feel more. I don't know how many years I will be
able to see.
Now my children see me going to work. It is a little like a more normal day. But I still feel
angry when I remember the bomber. I was 70 cm from her. I remember how she looked, a 19-year-old
who had seen so little of the world. Because of her I am now blinded. I want to find out how I can best
use what I experienced in that bombing. I would like people outside Israel to separate political and
The Palestinians have a right to disagree with us, but not to kill to express their
opinions. I think that Israel does not sufficiently explain to the outside world how the conflict not only
kills people, but also wounds large numbers of them. They are not separating those who are killed
from those who are wounded, often for life.
Sources; Interview with Dr S, 14 July 2004: Rudge, "Female Suicide Bomber Kills Three at
Afula Mall" Jerusalem Post, 20 May 2003; Ben Tal, "I'm Used to Attacks in Afula," Jerusalem
Post, 20 May 2003; Cygielman & Sinai, "Suddenly, Security Guards Get the Nod as the New
Heroes of the Terror War," Haaretz, 21 May 2003
Between September 2000 and May 2003, the town of Afula had experienced four terror attacks. The suicide
bombing in the shopping mall was the fifth terror attack in Israel during three days of that weekend. One of
the mall victims was a 41-year-old Israeli Arab man who had been hoping to complete his studies in
electronics and open a small business in his coastal village. He left a wife and three young children. Another
24-year-old Arab man was seriously wounded. His father said later, "Blood is blood, whether it is Arab or
Druze or Jewish. Terror is terror – and it makes no distinction between us" (Ash & Ratner, "Jewish, Arab
Mourners Share Sorrow and Anger at Funerals for Afula Vicims" Haaretz, 21 May 2003).
The next two testimonies are those of Israeli Arabs. In Israel, with a total population of 6.8 million, there are
approximately 1.3 million Israeli Arabs (Central Bureau of Statistics 29 March 2005). The majority are Muslims. In December 2004, there were 117,000 Christian Arabs (Kol Israel News). There are also Druse and Bedouin who serve in the Israeli Defence Forces, where some achieve officer status. The Bedouin are also valued for their tracking skills. The first testimony is that of a Druse family whose son was killed by a
suicide bomber in March 2002.
Mourning a Druse Hero – "The pain is not going; it's like a broken mirror.
|It is afternoon on a mountain top town in the Upper Galilee. Six members of a Druze family sit in a
shaded place remembering their son Salim. Two years before, in March 2002, a suicide bomber
mingled with civilians in a crowded market in Tel Aviv. Druze policeman Salim, out of uniform, was
near the market at that time. Suddenly, he heard an explosion. When he reached the scene, he saw the
bomber. In an instant he drew his pistol and shot him. As he approached the bomber's body, he saw
that he was not dead. He shot him again and killed him. His next instinct was to use his cellphone to
call his close extended family and tell them he was OK, before they heard of the bombing or saw it on
TV. What actually happened next was not clear amid the chaos caused by the bombing, except that
Fortified by small cups of strong coffee and a cool lemon drink, Salim's older brother recalls,
"Afterwards we heard various things about what might have happened at different times, different
places. We didn't know what had really happened. But that night I heard someone at our door. It was
a niece and she was scared. She said to come because the police are here. The police told me Salim
was dead. I went with the police to my parent's home. There were many policemen and many
neighbours there. It was by then 6.30 in the morning. At first we thought it was a mistake, that it was
not Salim who died. After all, Salim had called us on his cell-phone. We thought, it was like a bad
dream. He will come back to the family. But part of me thought, O my God perhaps its real. Perhaps I
will never see him again. Only gradually we began to realize that our lives had changed forever. It
took time to sink in. It was so terrible for our mother. In one year she had lost her husband, a brother
and then a son.
"Salim loved to help people, all people. He ran to help without thinking. Salim had been 'Best
Policeman', and the newspaper headlines at the time were 'Druze Hero From Tel Aviv'. After his
death Salim's police colleagues wrote a poem to him. 'You were the first who went; All of us you loved
to help; You were larger than life; We caught thieves together: (but this time) You did not return;
Your dream was to take out that bomber; You, like us, fight to the last; Your body you gave to the
people; You were our best friend; Now we have lost you' (Extracts).
In another poem colleagues wrote 'You were strong. Who would think that things would end so sadly; You wanted to finish the bomber;
To come back to us, to smoke and relax; But it was not to be; That son-of-a-bitch suicide bomber; You
saved others from him; You paid with your life. You are a hero; We enjoyed knowing you; we respect
you; We, who are still alive, will smoke a cigarette, as we always did; You were a brother and friend;
We were together; We loved life; We played snooker and drank beer; Why did it finish like this? It is
very hard for us; We remember you for ever; May your soul be in life." (Extracts)
Salim's family remembers, "What helped us as that time was our very close family, and friends and
neighbours. It was they who went to tell people at the town hall. The officials came, and the Police
came to visit us. After we lost Salim, people from the Department of Social Security visited us every
three months to see if we needed help. We meet from time to time with a family from the northern
Galilee who lost their son in a bus bombing near the holy city of Safed. It helps us ".
"What helped us at that time, and still helps us now, is that we Druse believe that when your time
comes to die, it is your time to die. But what is still so hard for us is that we still feel we do not really
know the truth about the way in which Salim died. Perhaps even the police are not telling us
everything. We do not understand why. Maybe a passerby killed Salim because they thought he was
another bomber... (He was in civilian clothes). When a friend went to identify Salim's body, he saw
that he had been knifed in the heart. Our family does not know whether to believe that the bomber
The family share thoughts and feelings about their present lives. "What we think about today, which
keeps us strong, is our religious beliefs. What do we feel about the suicide bombers and their
families? What can we say about people who kill each other, what can you expect from them? We feel
One brother says. " When we see a suicide bombing on TV, I feel my heart beating faster.
Another brother says, "The pain is not going; it's like a broken mirror. You can never fix it again. It's
like music at the philharmonic where one instrument is not there – there is something missing forever.
Even our religious beliefs do not change our feelings of loss and pain. We miss Salim so much. We
know we must continue, we have no choice but to continue. Our family is not quite as strong as it was
before. We don't talk as before, we don't smile as before. We look at Salim's daughter, three years old
now. She is without her father. Salim is still in or hearts and minds. He will never go away. We try to
remember what Salim would think about something or feel about something. We feel that he can 'hear
us'. We want the world to know that Salim spent his life trying to help people, whoever they were. He
died because he was protecting other people from a suicide bomber. Somehow, we still believe there
can be peace here ". The sun is sinking towards the western Mediterranean as nuts and fruit are set
on the low table.
Sources: Interview with B. family 21 July 2004 Casualties of War website at Jerusalem Post
The final testimony in this chapter is of a Christian Arab, member of a family who own the Maxim
restaurant which has the reputation of being a beacon of Jewish-Arab relations.
"I prayed, let this be just a dream... please..."
|The Mediterranean waves lap the shore beside popular Maxim's restaurant in Haifa. In the
background, on the Carmel mountain range are minarets of mosques, and, further along are
Christian churches. On 4 October 2003 Maxim's was crowded with Jewish and Arab families
enjoying their plates of humus (chickpeas) pitta-breads, grilled meats and fish.
A female suicide bomber, a 27-year-old apprentice lawyer, entered the restaurant. Just after 2 pm she
detonated her bomb belt, spraying the diners with ball-bearings and shrapnel. Tony Mattar, son of
one of the Christian Arab owners recalls: "I had gone into the kitchen to make salad and started to
cut vegetables. I don't remember hearing the explosion (maybe my hearing was affected) although the
explosion was enormous.
"Then there was silence, with just the sound of breaking glass, and clouds of black smoke like the
darkness of night without a moon. I stood for a couple of seconds watching the black cloud, then
started to think of the people. My brother emerged from the cloud, and two waiters, one bloodied.
Nobody else came. I helped the survivors and took them outside. Then I saw people clambering out
through the broken windows. In the restaurant, which is small, the pile of bloodied bodies seemed
enormous. Among them I could see family members, friends, regular clients. My uncle George was
still breathing. I heard myself saying 'Wake up'. I didn't want to believe what I saw. I thought maybe it
was a microwave which exploded... But I was seeing the truth, although I didn't want to see it. I saw
the microwave, unbroken. Then I realized it was a bombing. I thought 'No God, this is a movie, can
you reverse it. Let's just continue. I prayed let this be a dream. Please. I felt that I needed to have
power to help people. I saw people outside running towards the restaurant to help. But they were
afraid to enter. I never saw the female bomber."
“What helped me at the time was that I believe God builds us up so that we do not get hurt
irreparably by things like this. What upset me most was the thought ‘What did we do to deserve this?’
I was taken to hospital although I was not physically wounded. I didn’t want to go, but people
insisted. The dead and wounded had been taken to three hospitals in the area. In the hospital where
they took me families had started to arrive, looking for their loved ones – or their remains. I was
afraid to ask how many people died. A reporter I knew said 'A lot’. I then went to another of the
hospitals. I wanted to see how our customers were. I had the hope that maybe in the biggest hospital
they would somehow fix things. That hospital was crowded with thousands of people. I was in the
hospital until three o’clock in the morning. I visited all the people I could visit, my family and
customers. I made the rounds of all of them. My brother was OK but my uncle was seriously wounded.
It was hard because our family, friends, and customers had been together for so long. I didn’t want to
believe they were all gone.
“After the bombing it was two months until the restaurant opened again. During that time we felt the
love of all the people, Jewish and Arab, all around us. It empowered us because we felt broken, and
they wanted us to be strong. Now we try to continue the remaining life we have together. But often our
family seems to have gotten stuck in that terrible moment of the bombing when time stopped. We still
speak about the bombing all the time. We still live there. I can still see the ‘picture’ of my friends, my
customers, my family, as if they were lying there sleeping. I don’t feel hatred. I don’t think of the
bomber, but I am angry. I believe that God will punish them. If we do something (in revenge) it would
only change us. So I leave it to God. I believe that if you know how to love, you don’t know how to
hate. There is no place for hate – the heart is just filled with love.”
In the suicide bombing at the Maxim restaurant twenty-one people died, including three children and
an infant in a stroller. Sixty-nine people were wounded, five seriously, including ten children. Five
members of one family died in the attack. The waiter, serving that day as security guard, was among
three Israeli Arabs killed in the attack. Eyewitnesses said the blast had the force of an earthquake,
completely gutting the restaurant. Survivors trying to flee were blocked by overturned tables and the
bodies of the victims and the wounded, and they slipped on the bloodied floor strewn with smashed
plates of food. Maxim’s had been in joint Jewish-Arab ownership for 38 years. It was a favourite
haunt of the Maccabi Haifa soccer team, as well being one of the proud symbols of co-existence in the
ethnically mixed city. The female suicide bomber had been driven to Maxim’s by unknown
accomplices, apparently stopping on the way for her to buy candy.
Sources: Interview with T. at Maxim’s Restaurant 9 June 2004; Gutman, “Nineteen
killed in Haifa Suicide Bombing” Casualties of War, Jerusalem Post, 5 October 2003
173 civilians were killed and 99 wounded
in the 17 suicide bombings
Return to top
| Introduction | Chapter 1
| Chapter 2 | Chapter 3
| Chapter 4 | Chapter 5
| Chapter 6 | Chapter 7
| Chapter 8 | Chapter 9
| Chapter 10 | References
| Acknowledgements | Glossary
| Questionnaires |