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Last Updated: Monday, 6 October 2003, 12:05 GMT 13:05 UK
Three Israeli generations torn apart
By Verity Murphy
BBC News Online

In one lethal moment that transformed a relaxed beachside restaurant in Haifa into a scene of devastation, two Israeli families each lost three generations.

Bruriya Zer-Aviv with granddaughter Noya
Bruriya Zer-Aviv and her granddaughter Noya were killed instantly
The suicide bomb attack on Saturday, dubbed the "Slaughter of Families", which saw grandparents murdered alongside their children and grandchildren has sent shockwaves throughout Israel, a country used to violence.

Fifty-nine-year-old Bruriya Zer-Aviv had been having lunch with her son Betzalel, 30, his wife, Keren, 29, and their four-year-old son, Liran, and 14-month-old daughter, Noya, when the bomb exploded, killing them all.

On a table nearby was another family, headed by the legendary former commander of Israel's navy officer's school, Ze'ev Almog, 71. He was killed along with his wife Ruth, 70, son Moshe, 43, Moshe's seven-year-old son Tomer and another grandson via daughter Gallit, 10-year-old Assaf.

Gallit herself, along with two other grandchildren and Ze'ev's daughter-in-law Orli were all seriously wounded.

Community devastated

For decades the Maxim restaurant, co-owned by an Israeli and an Arab family had been frequented by a similarly mixed clientele and stood out as an illustration that the region's divided people could operate together in peace.

I saw the stroller that sat outside their house every day and the bottle and I knew it was them
Benny Shiloh, Zer Aviv neighbour

The blast there cut a swathe across religion, age and ethnicity. In the aftermath four Christian Arabs, including two cousins, lay dead alongside Israeli Jews - bringing the death toll for one of the deadliest bomb attacks since the intifada began to 19.

For the tight knit community of just 1,350 people at the Yagur Kibbutz, where the Zer Aviv family lived, the deaths have proven particularly devastating.

"This is a source of deep pain for the kibbutz," resident Hillel Leviatan said on Israel radio. "It's a very hard blow."

The small agricultural village, 13 kilometres (eight miles) north of Haifa, was founded 81 year's ago and is one of country's oldest kibbutz.

Maxim restaurant
For 40 years the restaurant was a place where Arabs and Jews could safely mingle

Bruriya organised events for the village hall there, her son Betzalel was training as a chef and his wife Keren worked in the kibbutz nursery.

"They were very well-known and well-liked," lifelong resident Benny Shilo, 66, said. "They fit in and were all strong members of this community because they had such a good nature. Families like this make you happy to live here."

The Zer Avivs had stopped to eat before returning home after a morning of shopping ahead of the Jewish holiday of Yom Kipur.

Desperate search

Friends at the village became concerned when news of the attack first filtered through and none of the family could be reached by mobile phone.

I'm trying to figure out what kind of suffering we're going to go through in the future, because as time goes by it will be more painful
Dov Lind, Almog family cousin

As their fears grew Bruriya's daughter Sophie and her father Freddy, who was separated from Bruriya, drove to the scene of the blast and spotted the family's vehicle in the car park.

They began a desperate search among the wounded who had been taken to local hospitals, but to no avail - the 22-pound bomb strapped to Hanadi Tayseer Jaradat's chest had killed them all instantly.

Kibbutz members anxiously watching the television for news had their worst suspicions confirmed when they recognised a pushchair and baby bottle marked with the name of the youngest victim, Noya, lying among the wreckage.

"I saw the stroller that sat outside their house every day and the bottle and I knew it was them," Mr Shiloh said.

Cancelled birthday party

On Sunday the children of the kibbutz had been due to join Liran for his birthday party, instead shocked parents were explaining to their offspring that the boy and his family were dead.

Haifa bomb scene
With 19 dead the attack was one of the deadliest ever

"If one person is killed you have the accepted norms of what to do," neighbour Shlomit Atzmon told the Associated Press.

"When an entire family is killed... you mourn for all five, you feel all five of them in your heart and you have five times as much fear."

The Almog family also lost five members, also from three generations and another tight knit community - this time the Israeli navy - was devastated.

"To lose in one blow, so many family members, the closest family... it is so strange to think of them in the past tense," Rotem Avrutski, Ze'ev Almog's nephew, told Israel radio.

TV footage clue

The Almog family had spent the morning at the beach in Haifa. Dov Lind, a cousin, had been with them on that fateful morning but had a lucky escape when he opted not to join them for lunch afterwards.

In an almost identical experience to the Zer Aviv family, friends and relatives first heard of the blast through media reports.

Hanadi Tayseer Jaradat
The bomber was able to make her way right into the heart of the restaurant

Mr Lind tried unsuccessfully to contact Ze'ev and Ruth on their mobile phones, while the sense of foreboding worsened as other relatives spotted the family's car in television footage of the restaurant car park.

Mr Lind said that his main feeling was sadness, not anger, but that he expected that feeling to get worse.

"I'm trying to figure out what kind of suffering we're going to go through in the future, because as time goes by it will be more painful," he said.

In the Israeli navy, former submarine commander Ze'ev Almog was regarded as a hero. The war veteran had gone on to command the navy officer's training school.

As word of his death began to trickle out, pupils and staff at the college began to call the current commander Eli Regev for news.

Mr Regev sadly confirmed that the rumours were true, but it did not end there - in another cruel twist of fate Mr Regev's 25-year-old son Nir had been at the restaurant too and was also killed in the blast.

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