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Widowed survivor: 'We just wanted to go out for a night'

©Washington Post

May 9, 2002


RISHON LETZION, Israel -- Don't go out, she said. For more than a year, Annette Termeforoosh, 35, warned her husband and children not to spend time in public places, family members recall.

RISHON LETZION, Israel -- Don't go out, she said. For more than a year, Annette Termeforoosh, 35, warned her husband and children not to spend time in public places, family members recall.

When she broke her own rule, she was killed.

Termeforoosh was among 15 fatalities in a suicide bombing in this city south of Tel Aviv on Tuesday night. Until shortly before her death, she was like so many Israelis: scared, cautious, willing to give up restaurants and shopping centers to minimize risk.

The string of recent suicide bombings had unnerved her. Nearby Ashdod, where she lived, had not been a prime target for such attacks. But still, Termeforoosh did not want to go out. Each night when her husband, Daniel, came home from his job selling auto air-conditioning parts, they stayed at home with their children, family members recalled.

But "how long can you stay in your house?" asked her mother-in-law, Gila Termeforoosh, 57. "At some point, they had to have a night out."

When Daniel arrived at home Tuesday, his wife suggested they go to a cafe that she had heard was nice. It seemed a safe enough outing, near their home, and her sister and mother would be along. Their oldest son, 11, could watch the two others, 7 and 6, for a few hours, she said.

"It was unusual" for her to suggest such an outing, Daniel said, and he gladly agreed.

They had fun at the cafe, located in a small commercial building, and as they were leaving, they heard laughter from a place upstairs, Sheffield's, an illegal establishment with a few pool tables and unlicensed slot machines. They went in, and Annette stopped to play a machine. The suicide bomber apparently entered soon after they did.

"I heard the explosion. It was darkness. Things went flying," said Daniel, 35, a stocky man, who Wednesday was wrapped in bandages and mending from shrapnel wounds at the Assaf Harofeh Medical Center.

"She died on the spot," he said, his voice flat from exhaustion and grief. "We just wanted to go out for a night."

Annette's mother, slightly wounded, was on another floor in the hospital. Annette's sister, with more serious injuries, was at another hospital. In a half-dozen hospitals around this city Wednesday, the wounded and their families nursed their injuries and their anger. In all, 57 people were hurt in the blast. At nearby cemeteries, the dead were lowered into the ground.

At the Termeforoosh home Wednesday morning, a social worker told the children that their mother was dead, and that their father, grandmother and aunt all were hurt.

"The young ones don't understand. But the older boy cried and went running to his room," said Daniel's cousin, Alon Mor, 35. "He asked his grandfather: When the Messiah comes, will he see his mother again?"

Soon, Annette's mother, Hana Almassi, swept into Daniel's room, weeping.

"I want Annette, I want Annette," she wailed. "What are we going to do with the children? My whole world is collapsing. My whole world is destroyed. Enough! Enough! I'm just going crazy! I want to die."

Daniel's mother cradled Almassi's head in her arms.

In another room, Eli Ninio, 52, struggled to explain through a swollen face the scene at the little club. He was a regular, and often went to play the slots, according to his son, Shmulik Ninio, 27.

But as he was playing Tuesday night, the lights went out and he thought the slot machine had blown up, Eli told his son. It seemed to crash into his face. Only when he walked down the stairs did he realize he was covered with blood, his son said.

"You know, we have seen this every day, and after a while, you just say, 'Okay, okay, it's another bombing,' " said Shmulik Ninio. "But now it's come to me. And I don't really know how to react. Of course, I'm angry. But I don't say, go kill all the Arabs. Really, I don't know what the answer is."

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