Combatants for Peace

During the Second Intifada, between 2000 and 2005, 1,100 Israelis were murdered, and 8,000 were wounded. Almost every family in Israel has a relative, friend, co-worker or classmate who was murdered or wounded during the wave of suicide bombings that occurred during this horrific time.

Second Intifada

Rescue workers evacuate wounded outside Netanya’s Hasharon Mall during Second Intifada. (Photo: MFA)

Israelis were afraid to go to restaurants, enjoy a night at the cinema, go grocery shopping or even send their children to school during the Second Intifada. It was a sad period in Israeli history.

However, suicide bombings did not begin with the Second Intifada; 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 in Tel Aviv on the eve of Purim, murdering 13 Israelis and wounding 130.

On June 1, 2001, 20 Israelis, most of them teenagers from the former Soviet Union, were murdered at the Dolphinarium nightclub in Tel Aviv; 100 more hundred were wounded.

“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 that attack. “Like everyone else, I never thought this madness would reach me, my family.”

On March 27, 2002, 30 civilians were massacred at a Passover Seder at the Park Hotel in Netanya, and 140 were injured. According to eye-witness Maxim Elkrief, “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 in place, with uneaten food mixed with dust, blood and glass shreds.

On October 4, 2003, 21 Israelis, including four children and five Israeli Arabs, were murdered by a female suicide bomber who blew herself up at the Maxim Restaurant in Haifa. Two children were from the Almog family, which lost five family members, while two others were from the Zer-Aviv family, where five family members 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.”

Second Intifada

Palestinian Arabs during Second Intifada (Photo: Tom Gross Media)

On August 31, 2004, twin bus bombings occurred in Be’ersheva, slaughtering 16 people and wounding 100 more. According to bystander 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 had never before experienced attacks of this magnitude.

These four examples were among many that occurred during during the Second Intifada.

On Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day, it is important to remember all Israeli victims of terrorism.

By Rachel Avraham