Massacre survivors mark 10-years at Netanya Hotel (JERUSALEM POST) By BEN HARTMAN 03/28/12)
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“Explosions aren’t that strange in Netanya,” Itzik Doublis said on
Tuesday, in a crack at the city’s underworld reputation, before
adding, “When the ambulances and police kept coming we knew something
was wrong, that this wasn’t criminal.”
Doublis, a 51-year-old native of Tangiers, Morocco, who has lived in
Netanya since the age of three, spoke to The Jerusalem Post of the
night 10 years ago to the day after a Hamas suicide bomber disguised
as a woman detonated himself inside the dining room of the city’s
Park Hotel, killing 30 people attending the Passover Seder and
“There was the HaSharon Mall bombing [in Netanya on May 18, 2001],
before that which caused real terror, but then it was quiet for a
while – until the Park Hotel attack, which brought back the
nightmares,” Doublis said.
Speaking from a shwarma restaurant he runs down the street from the
hotel at the city’s Independence Square, Doublis said the sense of
security in the city never fully returned but that “your brain
manages to forget, there’s always other things in this country you
can focus on.”
The Park Hotel bombing on March 27, 2002, was a watershed event of
the second intifada.
It was the most deadly Palestinian attack. The images of matzot and
Seder plates covered in blood horrified the Israeli public and led
then-prime minister Ariel Sharon to launch Operation Defensive Shield
to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure in the West Bank.
The hotel was built on a cliff overlooking the Netanya seashore in
the 1970s, and other than the renovations made to the entrance and
the events hall after the bombing, looks every bit an aged seaside
Marc Kahlberg commanded the tourism branch of the Netanya police in
2002. The carnage of a decade ago seems present when Kahlberg speaks
of the bombing. He was one of the first to respond to the scene.
“I’ll never forget it was raining and drizzling outside and when I
got there all the windows were blown out,” he said. “We went in and
just pulled out whatever we could, put bodies and body parts on
tables, it was horrible.”
He said it was by far the worst of the 16 terrorist attacks he
responded to, and left scars on him and those around him that took
years to repair.
Kahlberg spoke to the Post ahead of a ceremony in the event hall
where the bombing took place, organized by the OneFamily
organization, which provides support to victims of terrorism in
Corinne Chamami, whose husband, Amiram, died in the attack, is today
part of the hotel’s management team. She said that the 100-room hotel
still hosts Passover Seders, and that to this day a significant
number of guests choose to spend the holiday evening at the Park
Hotel, specifically as a message against terrorism.
Chamami, whose husband was the hotel’s manager 10 years ago, said
that for two years after the bombing no Seders were held there, as
she and the hotel owners fought a drawn-out battle with insurance
providers for compensation for the damage caused by the blast.
One of the speakers at Tuesday’s memorial, Sherry Ben- Aroya, still
shows signs of the critical wounds she suffered.
Ben-Aroya, whose father, Shimon, died in the attack, was one of the
most seriously injured survivors. She does not remember the bombing,
and her most recent memory leading up to it was from Purim a month
At the back of the events hall, Yuri Abramov, 61, sat by himself
taking in the ceremony. Three years after immigrating to Israel from
Russia in 1998, he was seriously wounded when a Hamas suicide bomber
blew himself up at the entrance to the HaSharon Mall. Abramov has
walked with a cane since the bombing, which left him disabled and
living off National Insurance Institute payments.
He was invited to the event by OneFamily, and was wearing an Israeli
flag pin that said “Yizkor” (remembrance).
Abramov said that on the night of the Park Hotel attack, he was
playing chess with friends a few blocks away when he heard a blast
that shook the neighborhood.
Corinne Hamimi’s 23-year-old son Yair burst into tears while speaking
about his father from the stage.
Abramov took his cane and walked out of the hall tearyeyed, overcome
by Hamimi’s memories of that bloody day 10 years ago. (© 1995-2011,
The Jerusalem Post 03/28/12)
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