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Wednesday, September 10, 2003

'May He swallow up death forever, and . . . wipe away tears from every face and remove the scorn of His people from throughout the world'

All eight victims of the Tzrifin suicide attack have been identified:
Sgt. Yonatan Peleg, 21, Moshav Yanov, Sharon area.

Yoni was in the army for a year and a half, serving as an instructor in the Tzrifin army base. Two weeks ago he was granted a promotion.

At the time of the attack, Yoni was on his way home, together with his girlfriend, also a soldier at Tzrifin base. She, too, was killed in the attack.

Yoni's father, Yosef, recalled with tears in his eyes: "When I heard of the attack, I called Yoni but He didn't answer. I left him a message, 'Yoni, call me back, we're worried.' He never did."

Yosef rushed to Asaf Harofeh Hospital, looking for Yoni.

"When I saw the look on the crews' faces, I understood he was dead," he said. "I want Yoni to be remembered as a good boy. Always smiling, loving life, looking out for everyone. His girlfriend and he were very much in love. Now, there'll always be together."

Comrades of slain Israeli soldier Yonatan Peleg who was killed in an explosion outside an army base near Tel Aviv moun during his funeral in Moshav Yanuv. REUTERS/Tsafrir Abayof

Yoni left behind parents, a brother and a sister. He was buried Wednesday in Moshav Yanov.

Corporal Mazi Grego, 19. from Holon.

Mazi Grego completed her studies at the ORT High School in Holon, majoring in computers. She had recently completed a computer course in the army and had been given an office and computer of her own to take advantage of her talents.

Just before the bombing, Mazi spoke to her mother Orly by phone and told her that the bus had been full and didn't stop. "If the bus had stopped she would still have been alive," her mother couldn't stop crying. "After the explosion I called Mazi, but her phone was engaged. At one point someone answered and told me he was the paramedic. 'Mazi's alive,' he said."

However, when the family hurried to the hospital, they were referred to the Institute of Forensic Medicine at Abu Kabir.

Nissim, Mazi's father, is furious. "We gave this country a flower, and she returned to us in a coffin. I don't understand Sharon. He's in India now, eating Papaya, while here terrorists are exploding. Couldn't they have killed Sheikh Ahmed Yassin when he was still in jail?"

Orly and Nisim, right, the parents of Israeli soldier Mazi Grego, and her brother and sister, left, cry over her coffin, wrapped in an Israeli flag, during Grego's funeral in the city of Hulon near Tel Aviv. AP Photo/Eitan Hess-Ashkenazi

Mazi left behind parents, a sister, due to begin her army service, and brother, two months short of celebrating his Bar Mitzvah. She was buried Wednesday at 15:30, in Holon.

Chief Warrant Officer (SWO) Haim Alfasi, 40, from Haifa.

Chief Warrant Officer Haim Alfasi, who would have celebrated his 40th birthday next week, was an instructor in the Signal Corps at the Tzrifin army base. He was killed on his way home.

When Haim's wife, Orly, heard of the attack, she immediately called her husband. As the hours passed and no word was received from Haim, her fear grew.

"First and foremost, Haim was a family man," she told ynet. "A loving father, husband and son, always thinking of his family. Now, thanks to this horrible situation, all we have is memories and photographs."

"He was a great cook," recalls his sister-in-law, Keren. "He made the best Moroccan fish, and was always helping my sister. Now Orly doesn't say much. She mostly cries.

"Haim had a wonderful relationship with his sons, wonderful and warm. They're so alike him, so loving and attached to him. Little Oz fell asleep early [Tuesday night] and doesn't yet know he's lost a father. Ran is already grownup, he understands, he sits around and cries."

Orly Elfasi embraces her two sons, Ran, 12, right, and Nir, 9, as she attends the funeral service of her husband, Haim, an Israeli senior warrant officer. AP Photo/ Hetzel Shapira

Chief Warrant Officer Haim Alfasi left behind a wife and three sons: Ran (12), Nir (9) and Oz (3). He was buried Wednesday in Haifa.

Corporal Prosper Twito, 20, from Upper Nazareth.

Corporal Prosper (Perry) Twito was informed on Tuesday that he was to join an officer's course, one which he had been waiting to join for a long time. "His commander told me he had a smile on his face all day long," his father, Ephraim, told ynet.

After the attack, said Ephraim, he expected the worst. "I had a gut feeling, and called the information center. They told me he was hurt and I drove to the hospital like a madman.

"I asked to see him, but he was undergoing surgery at the time and we couldn't go in." Ephraim and his wife, Denise, prayed for their son's life, but an hour later they were informed of his death.

Prosper left behind parents and three siblings. He was buried Wednesday in Upper Nazareth.

Sgt.-Maj. Yaakov Ben Shabbat, 39, from Pardes Hannah.

Sgt.-Maj. Yaakov Ben Shabbat left the Tzrifin army base, where he had been serving for the past seven years, especially early on Tuesday. It was his daughter's eighth birthday, and he wanted to stop off on his way home to buy her presents and a birthday cake. The cake, ordered specially, remained in the bakery.

"Yaakov was the dominant member of our family," his relatives said. "We used to ask his advice all the time. He loved his family and cared for it, and was especially attached to his three kids. He loved everyone, Jews and Arabs alike."

Yaakov left behind a wife and three children. He was buried Wednesday in Pardes Hannah.

Capt. Yael Kfir, 21, from Ashkelon.

Even though Yeal majored in theater," her father said, "she had a scientific mind. She completed her finals in math, for the maximum 5 points, with a grade of 100. She had been offered scholarships at several universities, but hadn't made up her mind what to study".

In addition to her IDF service as an instructor in the Signal Corps at the Tzrifin army base, Yael was studying math and history at the Open University. She dreamt of being an astronaut and reaching Mars, and two weeks ago had sent an e-mail to NASA, asking them to advise her if she should study astronomy or astrophysics. "She had enough dreams for dozens of people, said her father."

Yael left behind parents and a sister. She was buried Wednesday in Ashkelon.

Corporal Felix Nikolaichuk, 20, from Bat Yam.

Felix Nikolaichuk, who was to have celebrated his 20th birthday in three weeks, immigrated to Israel with his family from the Ukraine seven years ago. His father Sergei relates how, already then, his son dreamt of serving in the IDF: "He wanted to enlist and serve the country.

"Yesterday [Tuesday] evening I heard of the attack, but didn't know of anything. At nine p.m. the hospital called, and I was told he died immediately, wounded directly in the heart.

"We spoke for the last time Yesterday morning. Just an ordinary chat, nothing special. Now, I don't know what to say anymore. It's so hard" Felix left behind parents and a brother.

Sgt. Efrat Schwartzman, 19, from Gani Yehuda. Was buried Wednesday in Savion.

May all be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem
. . . and Moshav Yanov and Haifa and Upper Nazareth and Pardes Hannah and Ashkelon and Bat Yam and Gani Yehuda and Savion and Mevaseret Zion
. . . and Detroit and Cleveland
. . . wherever we are, in the family of Jews.

Ten of the wounded in the attack are still in hospital, five of which are in moderate condition.