JWR Wandering Jews

Jewish World Review July 17, 2002 / 8 Menachem-Av, 5762


A blood-stained stretcher
at the scene of the bombing

Nameless, faceless
no longer

http://www.jewishworldreview.com | Last December, 11 Jews in this Israeli suburb were killed, when PLO terrorists opened fire on a commuter bus. The response was to provide residents here with armored and bullet-proof transportation.

But only in the topsy-turvy world of the Middle East could increased security and protection leave you dead.

Yesterday, when Palestinian gunmen disguised as Israeli soldiers set off two 20-kilo bombs along the same route, the bus responded with an automatic "safety switch" --- sealing the doors and trapping women, children and fetuses. While some passengers were able to break free, only to be murdered by the terrorists, others were killed instantly when bullets and grenades pierced areas of the bus that were not sufficiently armored.

In all, 16 people were injured, including eight seriously. No less than three Palestinian groups took credit for the attack. It took more than an hour to remove the dead due to various ammunition that filled the bus.

For wire services like Reuters and newspapers like The New York Times, the senseless deaths of civilians -- none, of whom had even a remote connection to the Israeli military -- are being linked to "a meeting of Middle East peace envoys in New York." The dead are just nameless, faceless statistics, while "spokesmen" are fully identified in the dispatches.

Below, we recount the last minutes on Earth for, among others, a 9-month old twin who was laughing as she traveled on her grandmother's lap; the high school student looking forward to his first day of summer vacation; the mother who had just passed her final exam to become an accredited teacher and the father who'd just completed immersing himself in holy texts that taught him to love and respect all of humanity.

Ayellet Shikon, 29, who ran Emannuel's day care center, had taken her twin 9 month-old daughters, Tiferet Sarah and Galia Esther and 2 year-old son, Ohr Chaim, to visit their grandmother, Zilpa Kashi, 65, and were returning home.

The terrorists first opened fire on the grandmother, who was holding one of the twins. Both grandmother and granddaughter died in each other's arms.

Ayellet had been holding in her lap the other twin, who was seriously injured, when the terrorists' bullets struck. As she watched in horror the blood from the woman who gave her life flow down the aisle and mix with the child's she birthed, she dialed her husband, Gal, 35, on her cell phone.

"We're being shot at. There's a pigua here!" she screamed. The Torah scholar immediately left their home and spotted three soldiers. After alerting them to the developing situation, he learned their real identities when bullets pierced his body.

The 2 year-old was injured, when bullets exited his dead sister's head.

Yesterday at noon, Yehudit Weinberg, 22, completed her final test to receive a religious teacher's certification at the Bais Yaakov seminary in Bnei Brak. She was returning home to celebrate with her husband and year-old baby when she was fired upon by the terrorists. In her eighth month of pregnancy, she was rushed to ICU and gave birth via an emergency C-section to a son, who was sent a few miles away to a neo-natal unit, where he died.

At this filing, the mother -- Yehudit bat Ilana -- is in need of prayers.

Ilana Siton, 35, was the cosmetologist for the women of Emannuel. She and her daughter, Tehilla, 14, were returning from Bnai Brak, where they traveled to register the teen in a new religious high school. They had made a day of the chore by going shopping.

She died slumped over in the blood-stained lap of her daughter.

Her body will be buried alongside her cousin, who died in the December bombing at the same spot where both lost their lives.

Yonatan Gamliel,16, had just finished his last day at yeshiva (rabbinical school) in Bnai Brak. Last night, was the beginning of his two-week summer vacation. When the first roadside bomb hit his bus, the teen immediately called his mother.

"I am OK. There was a bomb, but I'm OK," witnesses remember him saying. But as he waited in his "secure" shelter, bullets sprayed the top of the bus, killing him. He died with a cell-phone in his hand pushing "redial."

Karen Kashani, 20, a single mother, had been talking to her best friend on her cell-phone when the terrorists opened fire. The bus had automatically sealed its doors once the bombs went off. As pandemonium broke loose, some of the passengers, Karen among them, managed to force themselves out. But when the "escape hatch" finally opened, she was immediately mowed down by the terrorists.

Galila Adas, 46, was heading home to be with her 4 children, one of whom was seriously ill. The nurse, who had been up the entire night before caring for invalids, had her life ended with three bullets to her head.

  —   Harvey Tannenbaum

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© 2002, Harvey Tannenbaum