Her eyes, I think, will stay with me forever. Imploring, beseeching, full of so much sadness. I think the shock of where and how she was, was sinking in. I can’t begin to describe all that was in those eyes.
Yesterday; Thursday, August 9th the 20th of Av, on my way to work, I found myself walking down Yaffo street. Hungry, I decided to stop and grab a quick bite… at Sbarro’s Pizza.
In the past 5 years I have frequented this establishment exactly twice. Walking into Sbarro’s there is a larger area for sitting in the front, but the back looked a bit cooler and quieter, so I decided to grab a seat in the back. That decision saved my life.
Waiting on line, when they brought me the baked Zitti I asked for, it was cold. So I asked the woman behind the counter if she’d mind warming it up. “Ein Ba’ayah”, no problem, she said with a smile. I will always wonder if that was her last smile on earth… A couple of moments later, a fellow from behind the counter came to the back with my baked Zitti. Then he started to speak to someone at one of the tables… That baked Zitti saved his life.
At about 2PM, I both felt & heard a tremendous explosion, and day turned into night. And then the screaming began. An awful, heartrending sound; the sound of people coming to terms with a whole new reality, of people not wanting to comprehend that life has changed forever. Those of us sitting in the back were spared, but I was afraid of panic, so I started yelling at everyone to quieten down; not to panic. The ceiling looked like it might cave in, but there is always the danger of a second explosion, detonated on purpose shortly after the first… But then I smelled smoke, and was suddenly afraid the restaurant mightbe on fire. So we started climbing our way through the wreckage to the front.
Would there be another explosion? Would the roof collapse? Were we making the wrong decision, climbing through? There are moments that last a lifetime… There are no words to describe what the front of Sbarro’s Pizza looked like in the immediate aftermath of that explosion. A woman was lying near the steps to the back. Her eyes were staring straight at me, following me. So full of pain and longing, sadness and despair. I dropped down becide her trying to ellicit a response to see if she could speak. And then I watched the life just drain out of her. I tried to get a pulse, to no avail. She died there, on the steps in front of me. She was lying by the table I had decided not to sit at…
There were bodies everywhere, and those images are in my mind; they won’t let go. A child’s body under the wreckage; a baby-carriage; limbs and a torso; A woman holding a motor-cycle helmet and screaming next to a person on the floor who had obviously been someone she was with… And then the mad rush to help the ambulance and emergency crews get the wounded out. They were obviously afraid of a second bomb, so there was no medical effort inside beyond getting the wounded on to stretchers and out. A religious Jew missing at least two limbs in tears and shock; what do you say? “yehiyeh Be’Seder” it’ll be all right? Will it?
I happened to sit a bit to the left as you walk towards the back, and so the wall behind me shielded me from the blast. Another fellow whom we went back in to get wasn’t so lucky. Sitting only 5 or 6 feet to my left, he caught the full force of the blast and was thrown in the air. When we got him on the stretcher he was bleeding profusely and was missing a leg… There are no words to describe what that man’s hand, clenched around my arm, felt like. He just kept looking from me to his leg and back again. I started saying Tehillim …
So many mixed emotions fill my head today. I came home last night and gave each of my children a very long hug… But there are so many families today who are waking up to the reality that life will never be the same. 17 funerals with friends and families saying goodbye to those they loved so, whose only crime was a desire for a slice of Pizza on a beautiful Jerusalem afternoon…
A Personal Account of the Bombing, by Rabbi Binny Freedman
15 people were killed, including 7 children, and about 130 were injured in a suicide bombing at the Sbarro pizzeria at the corner of King George Street and Jaffa Road in downtown Jerusalem. Concealing the explosives in a guitar case which he had carried with him into Jerusalem, the terrorist entered the restaurant just before 2 PM and detonated the bomb. The 5 kg.-10 kg. bomb, which was packed with nails, screws, and bolts to ensure maximum damage, completely gutted the restaurant, which was full of lunchtime diners. The terrorist was killed in the blast. Hamas and the Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack.
The names of the victims:
- Giora Balash, 60, of Brazil
- Zvika Golombek, 26, of Carmiel
- Shoshana Yehudit Greenbaum, 31, of the U.S.
- Tehila Maoz, 18, of Jerusalem
- Frieda Mendelsohn, 62, of Jerusalem
- Michal Raziel, 16, of Jerusalem
- Malka Roth, 15, of Jerusalem
- Mordechai Schijveschuurder, 43, of Neria
- Tzira Schijveschuurder, 41, of Neria
- Ra’aya Schijveschuurder, 14, of Neria
- Avraham Yitzhak Schijveschuurder, 4, of Neria
- Hemda Schijveschuurder, 2, of Neria
- Lily Shimashvili, 33, of Jerusalem
- Tamara Shimashvili, 8, of Jerusalem
- Yocheved Shoshan, 10, of Jerusalem
At 2pm on a blazing hot afternoon, Anat Amar sat her four children down in a restaurant in the heart of the city for a holiday treat. “As soon as I cut into the pizza I heard a huge boom, and orange flames shot through the air,” she said.
It was a suicide bombing, an earth-shaking, nail-studded blast that killed at least 15 Israelis, and injured at least 90, in the deadliest attack on Jerusalem for five years. At least six of the dead in the attack on a Sbarro pizza restaurant were children, and there were several babies among the wounded.
Ms Amar’s three-year-old daughter, Gafnit, was hurled through the air, landing in a heap of chairs and shattered glass. Sons Noam, seven, Hagai, eight, and Eliad, 11, were struck by glass splinters and metal debris from the device.
“I knew it was a bomb,” said Hagai from his cot at Jerusalem’s Bikur Cholim hospital. “I heard the boom, and saw sparks of fire in the air, and I was afraid. The doctors say I have metal in my hand.” Then he was wheeled off for surgery.
At the same moment that the Amar family – and so many others – were streaming into Sbarro’s, Chaviv Avrahami sat down for his own lunch behind his shoe shop on Jaffa Road, a few metres away.
“I heard a tremendous explosion, and I was thrown up a metre into the air,” he said. “I knew immediately that it was a bomb attack, and a catastrophic one.” He ran up the road and straight into a scene of carnage: bodies hurled through the windows lay sprawled on a road strewn with pizza slices, cardboard boxes, shattered glass, and blood.
“There were people – babies – thrown through the window and covered with blood. The whole street was covered with blood and bodies: the dead and the dying,” he said.
Naor Shara, a soldier who was walking by at the time, said: “The worst thing I saw, which I think will haunt me all my life, is a baby that was sitting in a stroller outside a shop and was dead. After the explosion, the baby’s mother came out of the store and started screaming hysterically.”
Such is the way of the terrorist. When Yassir Arafat started on his murderous rampage in 1964 (three years before the 6 day war), he was treated like the animal he was. Then slowly through a combination of Arab Oil power and the world’s continued hatred of Jews, the murderous rampage was treated with appeasement, and the Islamic world was taught that terrorism is a legitimate means of political expression.
The Sbarro bombing was not the first of these horrible murders, or the most deadly, perhaps it sticks in many of our minds because it is a pizza franchise found not only in Israel but in the United States and other countries throughout the world. Perhaps it sticks in our minds because it was part of the accelerating terror which just one month later saw the horror of 9/11.
There are those who say the horror of 9/11 was caused by the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and they are correct, but not in the way they think. Bin Laden and al Qaeda didn’t give a damn about the Palestinians. But the years of Palestinian Terror appeased by the world, rewarded with more aid and political power for Arafat and his pack of terrorists lead to the homicide bombing of Sbarros, the 9/11 attacks and the terrorist attacks happening in Afghanistan today.
The victims of terror and their families have those appeasers to thank for their pain.
Read More about this horrible mass murder on Israel Matzav by Clicking Here
HaMakom yenachem et’chem b’toch shar avay’lay Tzion vee’Yerushalayim.