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Thursday, 28 March, 2002, 01:51 GMT
Eyewitness: Netanya bombing
A victim is led from the scene
The victims were guests at a Passover celebration
More than 200 guests were sitting down to the traditional Passover Seder feast in Netanya's Park Hotel when a Palestinian suicide bomber walked in and blew himself up.

"I went into the dining room to sit down and then 'boom'. I looked for my family and I found them, thank God, all safe in the end," said one witness.


I was standing there and suddenly all the windows blew out

Maxim
Head waiter
But many others were not as lucky. At least 19 people were killed and more than 100 injured as the blast ripped through the dining room of the beachside hotel.

The guests were just about to start their meal when Hamas member Abdel-Basset Odeh struck.

He walked through the hotel lobby into the restaurant and detonated the explosives attached to his belt.

"I was standing there and suddenly all the windows blew out," said Maxim, the hotel's head waiter.

Blacked out

From her hospital bed, history teacher Nechama Donenhirsch said: "Suddenly it was hell."

child victim
At least 19 people have died and over 100 have been injured
"There was the smell of smoke and dust in my mouth and a ringing in my ears.

"My daughter, 16 years old, held me and said to me to calm me, 'You are alive, I'm alive, don't worry, we are alive'."

Her son Itai recalls that the family was sitting just three or four metres from where the bomber detonated his explosives.


We ran... over dead people, all in pieces

Nechama Donenhirsch
"I felt shockwaves and was pushed under the table, and everything blacked out," he said.

He yelled at everyone to take cover under the tables as pieces of ceiling fell on their heads.

The force of the blast hurled debris onto the street outside.

Parts of the ceiling collapsed, leaving metal bars piled on overturned tables and chairs, and open wires hanging down from the walls.

Nechama Donenhirsch said that when she ran from the room, she saw a little girl, maybe 10 to 12 years old, lying on the ground.

"The face of the little girl was so nice, it was as if she was surprised, big big open eyes, but surely dead," Mrs Donenhirsch said.

"We ran... over dead people, all in pieces."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Matt Gardner
"The streets of Netanya are in chaos"
The BBC's Nick Childs
"Tensions were high"
Israeli Government spokesman Gideon Meir
"Palestinian violence knows no boundaries"
See also:

27 Mar 02 | Middle East
Discord overshadows Arab summit
21 Mar 02 | Middle East
Israel's history of bomb blasts
02 Dec 01 | profiles
Who are the suicide bombers?
27 Mar 02 | Middle East
Clouds of dissent gather over Beirut
27 Mar 02 | Middle East
Arab summit: Egyptian view
27 Feb 02 | Middle East
What is in the Saudi peace initiative?
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