When terror strikes, the media highlights the immediate effects of the incident. But when the spotlight is dimmed, there remains the shattered lives of the survivors, and the victims’ families.
This chronicle of Netanya terror victims gives a heart-wrenching glimpse into their daily struggle of coping with the physical and psychological fallout of terror in Israel.
THE GRIEVING IN-LAWS
Victoria immigrated to Israel with her husband, Arkady, and their one-year-old daughter, Shulamit, from the Ukraine 12 years ago. They looked forward to establishing a fresh life in the Jewish state. Arkady’s parents joined them a year later. Now age 13, Shulamit has a 6-year-old sister, Rinat. Victoria works as a nurse.
Arkady worked as a chef in the Park Hotel, and escaped with his life from the Passover massacre that hit his workplace that fateful Seder night.
But the angel of death was waiting again for Arkady on May 19 in the local market when another suicide bomber carried out his mission as Arkady was buying groceries for his family. Arkady was killed, blown up by a Hamas terrorist.
In their grieving minds, the daughter-in-law has replaced the suicide bomber as the source of blame for their son’s death.
The family -- together with Arkady’s parents -- lives in a cramped two-bedroom apartment in a poor section of Netanya. They made the best of their lives -- until the terrible events of May 19. Victoria stoically tries to get on with her life, mainly for the sake of her two young girls.
Arkady’s parents, however, are mourning their son -- and blaming Victoria for his death. Victoria had asked Arkady to go to the market to buy vegetables for the family. So she, in the grieving minds of her in-laws, has replaced the suicide bomber as the source of blame for their son’s death.
The tension in the small household has become unbearable. Victoria has been forced to try and find a place where she and her daughters can find some peace of mind. But she cannot afford. She is stuck.
FLOWERS AT THE MALL
May 18 was a special day for Liliane. It was her 64th birthday. She decided to head for the Kanion Shopping Mall to buy herself a bunch of flowers. At the entrance to the mall she came face-to-face with the terrorist. In an instance she had a feeling of dread and fear. That was the moment, milliseconds before the huge explosion.
Over 70 pieces of shrapnel, and parts of the terrorists bones, ripped through her body. Someone dragged her to the sidewalk and wrapped her burning body. That probably saved her life.
She screamed all the way to hospital and wanted to die.
She screamed all the way to hospital and wanted to die. Instead a team of surgeons removed the pieces of bone and metal from her body and, in a series of operations, brought her back to her family.
Now Liliane must walk with a heavy metal walking stick. She needs additional operations, more than a year after the terror incident.
Each May 18, Liliane celebrates a double-birthday. One for the day she was born. One for the day she escaped death.
Elad made Aliyah to Israel from Ethiopia together with his parents, eight brothers, and two sisters. He served in the army, but his lack of education meant that he was always going to work in menial or manual jobs. He had found work in the local market filling the stall and selling vegetables. He was happy in this simple work. It gave him pride and self-respect to bring a little money home to his parents at the end of the week.
He remembers the explosion, the smoke, the smell, and being thrown to the ground. He remembers lying among the wreckage and looking up in wonder at the huge hole that once was the ceiling of the market.
Elad became a human pincushion to nails and screws.
Typical of the bombs constructed by Palestinian terrorists, Elad became a human pincushion to nails and screws. Elad was unable to move. He was rushed to the hospital where he spent four months undergoing operations and medical treatment. Elad will leave hospital in a wheelchair, and will require three sessions a week of physiotherapy.
Elad is a simple, but broken man. Not just physically. He has lost his self-respect. He does not know what he will do with himself. He will never be able to stand. His hands and arms are damaged. As a manual laborer, he wonders how can he ever feel useful again.
Anna is a pretty 24-year-old recent immigrant from the Ukraine. She is married and has two small children. Things were always tough financially for this young family, since their arrival in Israel. Anna’s husband worked in a poorly paid menial job, and she traveled daily to Raanana to work in a supermarket storeroom. Though the wages were low, Anna enjoyed her work and the atmosphere.
To supplement their income, Anna also found work as a part-time waitress. She was pleased to have been given a job at Passover in the Park Hotel in Netanya.
As she prepared to serve the guests at the Seder night service, another waitress remarked that a strange-looking man had entered the hall. Anna looked up just as the man detonated his explosive belt.
Anna is uncertain whether her children will be allowed back into their kindergarten next month.
Anna was unconscious for three days. Surgeons removed three shards of glass from her stomach, and another from her chest. They reconstructed her nose and removed nails from her body, including her right eye.
Anna, now with a glass eye, is determined to get on with her life. Despite her disabilities, she continues to care for her family and is holding her job in Raanana on a part-time basis. But Anna is uncertain whether her children will be allowed back into their kindergarten next month; she still owes 4200 shekels for the months of unpaid attendance for the months during the time she was hospitalized for the terror attack.
HOSPITALS AND GRAVES
The Ben Aroya family had gathered at the Park Hotel to enjoy the Passover Seder. Their family table was in the middle of the room. It took the brunt of the explosion. Shimon Ben Aroya was killed outright. His wife, Corinne, was blown off her feet as a shower of nails and ball bearings punctured her body. One piece entered to the right side of her nose and is, today, lodged in the back of her head. Another entered her chest and is embedded in her back. A third broke her ribs. Others peppered her arm and body.
A nail entered her right eye and exited through the left side of her brain.
Their 9-year-old son, Elad, needed plastic surgery on his back. Their 13-year-old daughter, Hilla, suffered shrapnel entries to her neck and colon. Their eldest daughter, 20-year-old Sherry, was hospitalized for many months with serious multiple injuries. A nail entered her right eye and exited through the left side of her brain. She is struggling to regain her speech faculties, and for the use of her legs and lower body.
The grandparents (Corinne’s parents) were also seriously injured. The grandfather has undergone three eye operations. The grandmother was blasted with shrapnel which has left her with a damaged colon.
And the list goes on. Corinne’s brother had a metal piece break his jaw. His 7-year-old daughter, Ravid, suffered back injuries. His 5-year-old son, Gavriel, is still in hospital with serious injuries to his head and main arteries.
The life of this extended family now revolves around trips to doctors, hospitals, physical therapists, psychologists -- and to the fresh grave of their beloved father, Shimon.
Donations to help these and other victims can be sent to:
Netanya Terror Victims Fund
POB 1510, Netanya 42115 ISRAEL