There is hardly a family in Israel who does not have a relative, friend, co-worker or classmate who was murdered or wounded during the wave of Palestinian suicide bombings that occurred during the Second Intifada. Between 2000 and 2005, 1,100 Israeli citizens were murdered, while an additional 8,000 were wounded. Israelis became afraid to go to restaurants, enjoy a night at the cinema, go out grocery shopping or even to send their children on a bus to school. It was a sad period in Israeli history.
However, suicide bombings did not begin with the Second Intifada, for they started much earlier during the early 1990’s, as part of a Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad effort to derail the peace process. In 1996, a Hamas terrorist blew himself up at Dizengoff Center on the eve of Purim, murdering 13 Israelis and wounding 130. There were suicide bombings in Israel even after the Second Intifada concluded in 2005 with the ascendancy of Mahmoud Abbas to PA leadership. On Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day, it is important to remember all Israeli victims of terrorism.
On June 1, 2001, 20 Israelis, most of them teenagers from the former Soviet Union, were murdered at the Dolphinarium Disco in Tel Aviv. 100 more were wounded in this terror attack. “The world is a crazy place where people kill each other and never learn,” said Faina Dorfman, who lost her 15-year-old daughter Genya in this particular terror attack. “Like everyone else, I never thought this madness would reach me, my family.” Yet, this madness did reach her and numerous other Israeli families who lost children to Palestinian terrorism.
On March 27, 2002, 30 civilians were massacred during a Passover Seder at the Park Hotel in Netanya, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. 140 more people were injured. Eye-witness Maxim Elkrief proclaimed, “I saw people lying on the floor. Guests were screaming. Severed arms, legs and a head were all over the place. Tables were smashed and the upholstery was torn out of chairs. It was so pretty, with crisp white tablecloths and flower arrangements, and then everything turned black.” After the explosion, only two tables remained. At these tables, matzas and uneaten food was mixed with dust, blood and glass shreds.
On October 4, 2003, 21 Israelis, including 4 children and five Israeli Arabs, were murdered by a female suicide bomber who blew herself up at the Maxim Restaurant in Haifa. Two of the children were from the Almog family, which lost five family members, while two of the other children were from the Zer-Aviv family, where five family members also perished. The Jerusalem Post reported at the time, “The Maxim restaurant was a rare oasis of Jewish-Arab coexistence. For four decades the business has been owned by two families – one Arab, one Jewish. Both Jews and Arabs were struck down in the attack.” This did not stop Palestinian terrorists from targeting this oasis of Arab-Jewish coexistence.
On August 31, 2004, two twin bus bombings occurred in Be’ersheva, slaughtering 16 people and wounding 100 more. According to eye-witness account Gil Yehezekel, “I heard a blast and I started to run to the site. Within seconds there was another explosion. When I got there, there were people on the floor, wounded people, limbs torn off!” The city of Be’ersheva did not experience attacks of this magnitude prior to that point in history. These four suicide bombings were merely a few of many that occurred during that period of time.
By Rachel Avraham