By Harvey Tannenbaum, June 6, 2002
“A Palestinian suicide bomber pulled a car packed with explosives alongside a
moving bus and blew it up Wednesday in a huge fireball that killed 17
passengers – 13 of them Israeli soldiers,” was how the Associated Press, ever
so clinically, reported the massacre at the Megiddo junction in Northern Israel,
immediately going on to offer some “analysis” (justification?) of the event.
Below, we offer brief vignettes of the dead’s lives. Among them, individuals
who had previously cheated death, a “second mother” to a Down Syndrome
child, and outright heroes.
How sad, nay, pathetic, that the snuffing out of human lives has become so
frequent, that, in most of the media, the death of innocents is reduced to
nothing more than another mark in a tally — and afterthoughts.
1. David Stanislavski, 23, had just spoken to his fiance, Victoria, in the Ukraine.
Victoria was so excited that she, too, would make aliyah – settle in the Holy
Land – next month, just as David and his mother had done four years ago. His
childhood sweetheart, Victoria had already made her own wedding gown for
their September wedding. David had enlisted in the Israel Defense Forces last
week. His mother is now alone, with only a daughter in law that could have
been hers, half a world away.
2. Adi Dahan, 17, had just ended the 30 day mourning period (shloshim) for her
older brother, Shlomi, 26, who had died in a mountain hiking accident.
Marcella, Adi and Shlomi’s mother, was over 40, when Adi was born. In
fact, the teen was considered to be a “miracle baby,” as doctors were
convinced that, despite her and her husband’s efforts, Mrs. Dahan would be
unable to conceive again.
Adi grew and blossomed, and her parents thanked G-d for their gift.
Adi had been visiting her best friend in Tel Aviv. On Sunday, she visited
her big brother’s grave to complete her last personal Kaddish. Today, she will
be buried next to him and the prayer’s words will once again be intoned.
3. Liran Avitan, 19, awoke very early at her home in Hadera. Before boarding
the bus to her military base, where that day she was to complete a course, she
made sure to go shopping and make lunch for her brother, Moshe, who was
born with Down Syndrome. The teen was the boy’s “second mother.”
After placing the special child aboard the special bus, she rushed to
catch her own.
Liran was burned beyond recognition. Only dental records could identify
A Down Syndrome child cried as hard as any other child. Liran’s little
brother has been crying and crying and crying.
4. Yigal Navipor, 22, was busy between his IDF duty and his part time job as a
waiter in the banquet hall in Netanya. His father, Roni, was laid off from work
three months ago and Yigal began to work as many hours as possible to help
sustain the family.
On Tuesday, he surprised his family with an unexpected day off from the
His intention was to spend his vacation day working a few hours in order
to earn some money to pay off his parents’ outstanding supermarket bill. Yigal
was killed en route back to his base.
5. Avraham Barzilay, 20, was known as a simple, quiet young man. He would
often engage charitable work – but always making sure that the recipient not
know it was his doing. He had just ended a two day vacation with his family
and was returning to his military base. His father had offered to drive him back,
but Avraham decided not to bother him and took public transportation.
He had just kissed his parents goodbye before running off to catch the
bus. He was trapped in the back, and the surviving passengers watched him
burn alive. According to David, a survivor, Avraham recited the “Shma Yisrael”
prayer of martyrs as the flames engulfed his body.
6. Zvika Gelbar, 20, had cheated death two months ago when, on the very
same route he would die, a bus he chose not to take was bombed. Zvika was
removed from frontline active duty by his commander after suffering trauma in
seeing the bus that he missed go up in flames, as he passed it on the road.
His nightmares of survival from the terror attack were also causing him
many health problems. Zvika was doing better mentally and had begun to coach
a soccer Little League of 11 year olds in his spare time.
He was traveling to his base after a week of R&R when the bus was
Zvika was burned beyond recognition on the bus that he did not miss
7. Sariel Katz, 21, was a leader in the Macabi youth movement and an expert in
computers and decoding of secret information. A native of Netanya, he was
able to go to commute to the nearby base daily. He was blown to pieces.
8. Sivan Wiener, 19, had just celebrated her birthday Tuesday night with her
sisters and then continued partying at a disco with her friends. Sivan was
supposed to return to her base on the late night bus, but her parents asked her
not to travel at night, even by bus, as it was too dangerous.
Her commander approved the later arrival.
A member of the local ballet and dance group, Sivan was slated to
become an officer on Sunday. Her older brother, David, 33, had just dropped
her off with the usual hug and kiss from his little sister before she boarded the
She was burned to death.
9. Vladimir Marri, 19 immigrated from Moldavia three years ago. He had been
home for a day from the IDF to plan his 20th birthday party tonight. His sister
had gone over all the details: from who was attending, to what was to be
When his family and friends gather tonight, the tune in the air will be the
dramatic, somber words of Kaddish, not a joyful rendition of “Happy Birthday.”
10. Gadi Iskov, 20, was not supposed to be on the bus he perished in. A
friend’s mother had taken ill and he had agreed to return to his base early to
relieve him of his duties.
Gadi, who had immigrated to Israel four years ago from Ukraine, fought
in Jenin during Passover and was decorated with medals. Yesterday, he was to
be sworn-in as an officer.
When he learned of the bombing, Gadi’s father sped to the site. All he
could find was his son’s backpack. He recognized his son’s hand by a watch
still attached to it.
11. Dennis Bluman, 20, immigrated from Ukraine 11 years ago with his family.
Three months ago, Dennis was aboard a bus when a terrorist was jumped by
the passengers. He was one of the heroes.
Since that day, Dennis refused to travel on that bus line, not wanting to
tempt fate. Now he’s dead.
12. Eliran Buskila, 21, was never late. He was always the first at the bus stop
at his base, and at work, where he was involved with computer programming.
On Wednesday, he was early. Many years too early.
13. Zion Agmon, 50, and his son, Yuval, 19, were traveling together to
Tiberias. Zion had a court date in Tiberias, while his son was returning to his
IDF base near the town. The two decided o enjoy each other’s company.
Zion was killed instantly, while his son was ‘only’ lightly injured.
Yuval witnessed his father’s head being blown off.
Tragedy had struck the family before, when Zion’s niece, Tzippy, was
killed six months ago in a terrorist attack in Hadera.
Zion was always closest to his brother’s children. He was the “Shabbas
gabbai” (Sabbath sexton) in Hadera’s synagogue. And he took it upon himself
to fulfill the almost year-long Kaddish rite for his niece, even though he did not
have the obligation.
Now, Yuval, will be reciting Kaddish for his cousin to honor his father’s
wishes, and, additionally, for his father, who just wanted to share a bus ride
with his son.
14. Dotan Raizel, 21, was the youngest of his family. The clan were among the
“pioneers” in Hadera. His best friends were killed in another Bus of Terror, just
months ago on the same spot near Megiddo.
Dotan was a volunteer at Israel’s Red Cross and was on leave from the
IDF. Next month, his older brother, Amit, is getting married. Dotan was
supposed to sing under the Chupah canopy.
15. Vilta Chizgayov, 19, had just finished her year of mourning for her mother,
who was killed in a car accident. Two years earlier, her father had died of
cancer. She and her sister were the only survivors of her immediate family,
which had immigrated from the Ukraine to Israel in 1994.
Vita’s sister was supposed to have joined her on the bus trip. She was
to have visited friends in Tiberias, while Vilta was to return to her IDF base.
At the last moment, Vilta’s sister had a doctor’s appointment and
decided to take a later bus.
Today, Vilta’s sister is alone. She is burying her little sister next to her
parents, side by side.
16. and 17. … are bodies still being identified from the pieces of “extra” limbs.