Jewish Journal


March 18, 2004

An Act Of Kindness Ends In Murder


Funeral workers tend to six of 10 terrorist bombing victims at a funeral parlor in the southern Israeli town of Ashdod. Photo by Brian Hendler/JTA

Funeral workers tend to six of 10 terrorist bombing victims at a funeral parlor in the southern Israeli town of Ashdod. Photo by Brian Hendler/JTA

It was an act of kindness reciprocated with murder.

Crane mechanic Moshe Hendler, 29, was on his way to wash up after a long day of work at the Ashdod port on Sunday when, along with a group of fellow workers, he ran into a young man asking for water.

They passed him a jug. An instant later, the man turned himself into a human bomb, taking the lives of Hendler and several others. Hendler's father, Avraham, who works at the port, rushed to his son, who was sprawled lifeless on the ground.

Hendler -- the father of a 6-month-old daughter -- was buried Monday. He was one of 10 Israelis killed in a double suicide bombing Sunday at the industrial port on Israel's southern coast.

Mazal Marciano, 30, was sitting in her office when the explosion went off, killing her instantly. Marciano worked as the marketing manager for the Nehemia Lahovitz meat products company.

Gal Lahovitz, who owns the company, said one of the suicide bombers blew himself up outside the trailer office where Marciano was working. She was the mother of two young sons, ages 2 and 5.

Although Ashdod largely has been free of violence during the three-and-a-half-year-old Palestinian intifada, Marciano's relatives said they knew they probably would be hit by terror one day.

"We knew this round of terror attacks would reach us, too, and every time we saw pictures of terror attacks on television, we felt it would happen to us one day," one of Marciano's brothers said in the newspaper, Ha'aretz.

As after every attack, photos of the bombing victims were splashed across the front pages of Israel's newspapers, and it was lead story on television broadcasts early in the week.

Among the dead was Avi Avraham, 33, who recently had been hired as a crane electrician at the port and who was married four months ago. His wife, Ettie, 27, rushed to the scene of the attack but was kept away by police barricades. Meanwhile, she kept calling his cell phone, but no one answered.

At the same time, the family of Zion Dahan, 30, frantically searched the hospitals. The search lasted until the family heard the news that Dahan was on the victims' list.

Six months ago, Dahan had had a close brush with death when a cable came loose and hit him in the face, relatives said. This time, he found himself in the path of Palestinian terrorists, and he was not fortunate enough to escape.

After the bombing, some Israeli authorities suggested that the attack on the industrial port, where toxic chemicals are stored, may have been an attempted megaterrorist strike. They said the bombers may have intended to detonate themselves next to the port's bromine tanks to release a cloud of poisonous gas into the surrounding area that potentially could have killed thousands.

Palestinian groups said they indeed had hoped to carry out a massive attack.

Hamas and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade jointly claimed responsibility for the attack, which was perpetrated by two 18-year-olds from the Gaza Strip. It was the first attack since the intifada began that was committed by Palestinians from Gaza, which is surrounded by an electronic fence.

Palestinians said Monday that the terrorists entered Israel by tunneling under the fence.

Morris Tuval, 30, who was a neighbor and former classmate of Marciano, also was killed in the attack. Filling in for a co-worker who could not make his shift, Tuval had just returned from an afternoon out with his friends, the well-known Israeli soccer players from the Ashdod team, Chaim and David Revivo. The three were childhood friends.

After lunch, David Revivo went to soccer practice, which is where he heard the two explosions.

"I can't stop crying," said Revivo, who described Tuval as "one of the greatest guys in the world."

Also killed in Sunday's attack were Gil Abutbul, 31; Dan Asulin, 51; Ophir Damari, 31; Avi Suissa, 55; and Pinchas Avraham Zilberman, 46.

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