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Six months later, the `17th victim´ is identified as Sderot man (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Jalal Bana and Tzahar Rotem 12/11/02)Source: http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=239770&contrassID=2&subContrassID=1&sbSubContrassID=0&listSrc=Y HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
Six months after being killed in a terrorist attack, the 17th victim of the June 5 Megiddo Junction bus bombing has been identified as Eliahu Timset, 32, of Sderot, a chronically unemployed man who lived with his parents.

His 70-year-old father Michael has been searching for Eliahu since, firmly believing him to be alive. The last time they saw one another was on the morning of June 5 when Eliahu left home in Sderot for a vacation in Tiberias. He had promised his sister Geula he would be back for the weekend to take care of their ailing mother, but he never returned.

People said they saw him, rabbis said they heard signs from heaven, and underworld figures claimed "Eliko" had disappeared because he owed money in gambling debts.

Meanwhile, Michael Timset´s wife died, leaving him with his six daughters and eldest son. Eliahu was the youngest, and for six months he was sure his son would walk in the door of the Sderot apartment, returning from his mysterious trip. The elderly man said he had paid out more than NIS 6,000 to the underworld figures - through a third party he refused to identify even yesterday - in the hope of finding his son.

The 17th man

In the June 5 attack in Wadi Ara, a Palestinian slammed a car laden with explosives into the back of an Egged bus. Due to the intense heat many of the bodies were burned beyond recognition, and Abu Kabir´s Institute of Forensic Medicine was unable to identify the body that became known only as "the 17th victim."

Despite appeals to the public, nobody came forward to identify the body. He was buried in a non-Jewish section of a cemetery in the north, on the assumption that he was a lone foreign worker, perhaps friendless, perhaps known only to people who were afraid to come forward for fear of being deported.

But police did not give up. On the assumption that the unidentified man was indeed a foreign worker, the police contacted all possible foreign legations and Interpol, yet nobody came forward.

Meanwhile, Eden Productions, a Tel Aviv film production company decided to make a documentary about the case and with promises of help from the police, producers Edna and Elinor Kubersky and director David Ofek hired sketch artist Gil Jabli. The artist had access to all the documentation from the original police investigation headed by Deputy Commander Avi Hilwe and Chief Inspector Shimon Ben Sabo, and after the sketches were completed, they were distributed to the media, and ran in newspapers. Still, nobody came forward.

According to Timset senior, it never occurred to him that his son might have been the 17th man "because he never took buses, only taxis." And indeed, it was a taxi driver who would become the link between the 17th body and the Timsets.

It finally clicked

On November 20, after the film was completed and edited, Ma´ariv, like other newspapers, ran a feature on the subject of the movie, and the carried the sketches prepared by Jabli. The drawings caught the attention of a taxi driver who remembered driving Timset from Sderot to the Egged central bus station in Tel Aviv.

The driver contacted the police, saying he recognized the sketch, and his memory of the lone passenger from Sderot to Tel Aviv´s central bus station led police to scour their missing persons reports for people from Sderot.

Indeed, Michael Timset did report his son missing a month after the bus bombing, and because of his optimistic friends, and the promises of rabbis - and even the underworld extortionists. He told police at the time that Eliahu was last seen on June 8, three days after the bombing.

"We decided to wait until mother Zehava passed away, because she was very ill and we didn´t want to worry her," said one of Eliahu Timset´s six sisters.

Police tracked down relevant paperwork at Sderot police station that led them to the Timsets and, when requested, the family provided DNA.

In a matter of days, it was confirmed. Eliahu Timset was the mystery 17th victim of the Megiddo Junction bombing. (© Copyright 2002 Ha´aretz 12/11/02)

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