Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Mother, Neighbors, Co-workers Among the Dead in Ashdod Attack

March 16, 2004
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

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 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 young man had turned himself into a human bomb, taking the lives of Hendler and several others.

Hendler’s father Avraham, who also works at the port, rushed to be with his son, who was sprawled dead on the ground.

Hendler — father to a six-month-old daughter named Tal, whom he used to carry on his shoulders — was buried Monday. He was one of 10 Israelis killed in the double suicide bombing Sunday at the industrial port of Ashdod, along Israel’s southern coast.

Mazal Marciano, 30, was sitting in her office when the explosion went off, killing her immediately. 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, aged 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 likely 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 after the attack, Ha’aretz reported.

As after every attack, photos of the bombing victims were splashed across the front pages of Israel’s newspapers and at the lead of television broadcasts early in the week.

“I don’t understand,” a relative was quoted as saying in one headline.

“Her children meant everything to her,” read another.

Among the dead was Avi Avraham, 33, who recently had been hired as a crane electrician at Ashdod’s port and who got married just 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. It rang and rang, but no one answered.

At the same time, the family of Zion Dahan, 30, frantically searched the hospitals. Dahan, a second-generation port worker in his family, operated heavy machinery.

The search lasted until the family heard the horrible 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, which contains toxic chemicals, may have been an attempted mega-terrorist strike. They said the bombers may have intended to detonate themselves next to the port’s bromine tanks, sending a cloud of poisonous gas into the surrounding area and potentially killing thousands.

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

Hamas and the Al-Aksa 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 perpetrated 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 together, David Revivo went to soccer practice, which is where he heard the two explosions.

“I can’t stop crying,” said Revivo, who described Morris 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.

Recommended from JTA