JERUSALEM (Feb. 23)
For Shoshi Yosef, the political became much too personal.
As secretary to the Israeli consul general in The Hague, Yosef had prepared for around-the-clock advocacy work this week against the International Court of Justice’s hearings on the West Bank security fence.
Instead, she found herself back in Israel on Monday to bury her brother, Yehuda Haim, who was one of eight people killed in Sunday’s suicide bombing in Jerusalem.
As is often the case with such terrorist attacks, the victims of Sunday’s bombing, which wounded more than 60, were ordinary citizens from a cross-section of Israeli society — and they were remembered for the ways they brought good cheer into the daily routines of their family and friends.
Foreign journalists busy with the bustle of covering rallies for and against the fence hearings took a moment to remember Haim, 48, who for years ran a grocery store next to the offices of a major news-wire service in Jerusalem.
Haim was a disabled veteran who had undergone four operations since being wounded in Lebanon. He suffered from constant back pain, noted his brother-in-law, Baruch Almog, “but was an industrious man who got up early every morning to open the grocery.”
A friend of Haim remembered: “In the snow or rain, the grocery was always open. And it didn’t only have merchandise — whoever came to shop also received a heaping portion of good cheer. Yehuda and his brother, Shimon, loved to tell stories and to laugh. Many customers would leave there with a smile.”
Not a regular bus passenger, he had dropped off his wife’s car at a garage and was riding to work when he was murdered.
Haim’s grocery store bore an obituary notice on its front grill, with several wreathes laid near the doorway.
In the leafy Jerusalem suburb of Rehavia, students at Hebrew Gymnasium High School held their own vigil for a friend who was also among those slain in Sunday’s attack.
Lior Azulai got on the doomed No. 14 after missing an earlier bus.
A keen soccer player known for his trademark spiked haircut, Azulai, 18, had recently been persuaded by the school principal to dedicate himself more to his studies, friends said.
“He was always the type that made everyone crack up, that would not let a boring class pass by without a laugh,” classmate Keren Adiaka said.
Azulai wasn’t the only teenager killed in the blast.
Benayahu Yehonatan Zuckerman, a student at the Experimental High School in Jerusalem, turned 18 last week. He was a natural athlete who looked forward to trying to join the Israel Defense Forces’ elite Sayeret Matkal reconnaissance unit after graduation.
“The self-confidence you displayed, your easygoing joie de vivre, all showed us that there was something worth living for,” Zuckerman’s father Moshe said in a eulogy at his funeral.
Just two years older than Zuckerman and Azulai was Natanel Havshush, a combat soldier on his way back to base at Netzarim, one of the most dangerous flashpoints in the Gaza Strip.
Havshush was killed by shrapnel from the Palestinian terrorist’s hidden bomb.
But a friend traveling with him survived with minor injuries, and delivered the grim news to the soldier’s relatives when they rushed to the scene of the attack.
Yaffa Ben-Shimol, 57, a mother of five, was her family’s sole breadwinner due to her husband’s physical disability.
She was on her way to work as a care-giver for an elderly woman when she was killed.
Ben-Shimol’s children described her as a devoted mother and grandmother, who showered her grandchildren with love.
She was anticipating the birth of a 10th grandchild in another two months.
“She was so eager about it,” said her husband, Sami. “She would not stop talking about how another grandchild was about to join the family.”
Family was also paramount for Rahamim Duga, 38, of Mevasseret Zion.
He was returning from the Talpiot neighborhood of Jerusalem, where he had gone to obtain medicine when he was murdered.
“He had a good heart,” related his younger brother, Yigal. “He would help our mother all the time; he would look after her.”
Ilan Avisidris, 41, was still putting his life back together after family troubles when he was killed in the attack.
Avisidris was born and raised in Beersheba, but lived in Jerusalem ever since his divorce 12 years ago. “Ilan was searching for himself after going through many crises,” a cousin related.
Avisidris divorced after three years of marriage and the birth of a son. His parents had divorced when he was a child and his father moved to France. Following the death of his mother six years ago, Avisidris underwent an ongoing crisis, according to the cousin.
“He traveled around the country, he had no fixed address,” said the cousin. “He worked here and there. There was no close contact. The poor guy was searching for himself and sort of got lost. He was a good person, delicate. He always helped others and always got left with nothing.”
Fate was similarly cruel to the family of Yuval Ozana, 32, who had just ended a night shift in the industrial neighborhood of Talpiot and was taking the bus to help his elderly parents with their business in Mea Shearim.
Ozana, his wife, Katy, and their two small children had been living with his parents to save money, but planned to return to their apartment in the Pisgat Ze’ev neighborhood.
“He was crazy about his children,” said his brother-in-law, Bambi Peretz. “He was full of warmth and devotion, and loved to help everyone.”
His loss followed the killing of a brother-in-law in a roadside shooting in the West Bank and the near-fatal wounding of a cousin in a triple bombing on Jerusalem’s Ben Yehuda pedestrian mall.
“I am handicapped; I overcame everything, but I will not be able to overcome this,” said Ozana’s father, David. “Everything is upside-down with us, parents burying children. How long can this go on?”