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Profile of Some Victims Shows How Random Terror Attacks Are

January 30, 2002
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The recent attacks that turned downtown Jerusalem into a horror gallery demonstrate the randomness of Palestinian terror: Victims included a fifth-generation Jerusalemite; a Russian immigrant; a student from Chicago who was studying at a girls yeshiva; a tourist from New York who survived the Sept. 11 Twin Towers attack; and two Arabs who already were injured in previous terror attacks.

They were diverse individuals who had one thing in common: being at what one Israeli commentator called “our Ground Zero” at the wrong time.

Two attacks occurred within days of each other — a Jan. 22 shooting spree in which a Palestinian gunman killed two Israelis and wounded more than 40 people, and a bombing carried out by a Palestinian woman on Sunday that killed one person and wounded more than 120 others, most of them lightly.

Pinchas Takatli, 81, was killed in Sunday’s bombing on Jaffa Street. Police believe he was standing close to the female terrorist when the bomb went off.

Born in Jerusalem’s Yemin Moshe neighborhood, he was a fifth-generation Jerusalemite. He served in the Haganah, the precursor to the Israel Defense Force during the British Mandate, and later worked in advertising.

A friend recalled how Takatli was killed near the spot where he was beaten up by a British soldier more than 50 years ago.

After retiring, Takatli became interested in cycling and was one of the founders of the Jerusalem Cycling Club. His son Gilad said his father rode his bicycle daily.

“My father hated the bus and used to walk or ride his bike,” he said.

An amateur artist, Takatli was returning from an art class and had gone downtown to pick up supplies when he was killed.

Takatli’s family described him as a punctual man. When he failed to come home, his wife phoned the art class. About an hour later, they learned the bitter news.

His family described Takatli as a loving grandfather. They said his grandchildren enjoyed painting with him. The walls of his home are filled with his paintings, many showing views of Jerusalem. He had planned to mount an exhibition of his works.

He is survived by his wife Hanna, four children and 13 grandchildren.

Svetlana Sandler, 56, represented the opposite end of the Israeli spectrum — an immigrant whose roots in the country were so shallow that it took two days to find her family, which had remained in Russia.

Sandler was critically wounded in the Jan. 22 shooting attack on Jaffa Road. She and another woman wounded in the attack, Sarah Hamburger, 79, later died of their injuries.

Sandler’s name was released for publication only 48 hours after the attack when the members of her family, all of whom live in Russia, were located and informed.

Ten years after she made aliyah, her body was sent back to Russia for burial.

A Christian, Sandler came to Israel shortly after her marriage in August 1992. She divorced shortly afterward.

Her son from a previous marriage was deported by the Interior Ministry because he is not Jewish.

Sandler was taken to a local hospital following the shooting. When no one came to see her, staff there contacted the Absorption Ministry.

Ministry and Jewish Agency officials were able to locate Sandler’s family in Russia by calling numbers in a phone book she left at a Jerusalem architectural firm, where she worked as an engineer.

They finally reached her elderly mother, who lives in Khadivinsk, some 1,000 miles from Moscow. Sandler’s sister and son live there as well.

Jewish Agency officials set out for the town to assist the family in coping with the tragedy.

Shayna Gould, of Chicago, was studying at a girls yeshiva in Jerusalem when she was injured in the Jan. 22 attack. She had been nervous over the summer about returning to Michlelet Esther for her second year, said Steve Kost, who employed Gould at Tov Foods in Skokie, Ill.

“Her parents didn’t even want her to go, but she had paid all this money for her ticket and for school,” Kost said.

But Gould, who was active in the National Conference of Synagogue Youth, an Orthodox youth group, wanted to finish her studies.

Gould, 19, was seriously injured in the attack. Indeed, she suffered a bullet wound to her left lung– and was only saved because a paramedic recommended that the driver of her ambulance switch course and take her to Shaare Zedek Hospital, which is close to the site of the attack, according to a Shaare Zedek spokesman.

Doctors were originally pessimistic, but by Tuesday, she had been upgraded to good condition.

For American tourist Mark Sokolow, 43, of New York, Sunday’s attack was his second brush with terror in less than five months.

Sokolow escaped from the second tower of the World Trade Center during the Sept. 11 attack. He and members of his family were lightly wounded in Sunday’s bombing in downtown Jerusalem.

“I was a lot luckier last time,” Sokolow told reporters from his hospital bed in Jerusalem on Sunday. “This one involved my whole family.”

Members of an Orthodox congregation in Cedarhurst, N.Y., Sokolow, his wife, and two of their daughters were in Israel to visit their eldest daughter, Elana, 18, who is studying at Midreshet Lindenbaum, a prestigious girls’ yeshiva in Jerusalem.

They had gone downtown to buy shoes before their return to the United States. Sokolow recalled how the family was walking out of the shoe store when the explosion occurred.

“We walked out and all of a sudden I heard a blast. I felt a blast, like a boom. Almost it didn’t seem real,” he told Israel Radio.

“A number of people came over to help me. They put me into the back of an ambulance. I remembered that I had to go see if my wife and daughters were OK. I got out of the ambulance to try to find them, but I couldn’t find them anywhere.”

Mark, wife Rena and teen-age daughters Jamie and Lauren — were injured and are still in Jerusalem, said Mark’s father, Al, in New York.

Rena broke her leg and will be in a body cast for several months, and Jamie had her eye injured by glass. Mark and Lauren’s injuries were less severe.

Sokolow said he believes his daughter would continue her studies in Israel. He said he could not imagine asking her to do otherwise.

“I think it’s important that people come here,” he said.

“Here” has become increasingly dangerous: Since Palestinian violence erupted in September 2000, downtown Jerusalem’s main shopping district, a stretch of Jaffa Road from King George Street to just beyond Zion Square, has been the target of eight terrorist attacks.

Also among the injured in Sunday’s attack were Amir Zachayka and Moussa Awad, Arab employees of the Sbarro restaurant on Jaffa Road — itself the scene of a suicide bombing last August in which 15 people are killed and more than 130 wounded.

Zachayka survived that attack, but he was wounded in last week’s shooting spree, and then again in Sunday’s bombing.

Zachayka was making a delivery for Sbarro when the Palestinian gunman began firing in the Jan. 22 attack. He fainted and was taken to hospital, where he was treated for shock.

On Sunday, he was on his way to pick up a form relating to his injury in that attack when the bomb blast shook the downtown area. He was injured again.

“The images from last week all came back to me,” he said.

Awad, 25, was injured in both recent attacks.

“I was standing at my usual place when I heard the explosion. I felt as if someone was pushing me from behind and I fell over,” Awad said as he recovered in the hospital from the latest attack.

“I’m tired of life. I’m sick of what’s happening,” he said.

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