Six months later, the `17th victim´ is identified as Sderot man (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Jalal Bana and Tzahar Rotem 12/11/02)
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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
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
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
"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
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