Netanya, March 28 – Survivors of one of the bloodiest attacks on Israeli civilians held a memorial service in the same dining hall of Netanya’s Park Hotel where a Hamas suicide bomber killed 30 people and wounded 150 ten years ago.
On the evening of March 27, 2002, a Hamas terrorist dressed as a woman snuck into the hotel with an explosives-laden suitcase. He detonated the bomb in the dining hall where families were sitting down to the festive Passover meal.
“It is very painful for us, but we are strong. They will not defeat us,” said Corinne Chamami, whose husband Amiram was killed in the blast, leaving her as a single mother of six children.
Chamami, whose family owns the hotel and is now a senior manager there, said that in the years following the attack many Israelis and tourists made a point of specifically patronizing the Park Hotel. “They come to give us a hug. They say ‘we are with you.’”
That year alone Palestinian terrorists carried out dozens of suicide bombings across Israel that killed at least 236 people and wounded over a thousand others. Israeli security forces managed to thwart over 100 other suicide attacks that could have pushed the death toll much higher. The construction of a security fence between Israel and the Palestinian Authority has cut the suicide attacks to almost zero in the past several years.
Dahlia Falistian, an only child whose parents were killed in the attack, quivered emotionally but spoke in a firm voice to reporters before the memorial service.
“I am not broken. I am strong. I don’t want anybody in Israel or the world to forget the Park Hotel,” she said.
Despite efforts to help the victims overcome the trauma of the terrorist attack, Dr. Jack Weinberg, a post trauma psychologist, said that while victims learn to cope with the aftermath at least 20 percent of terror victims remain traumatized.
“This is forever. You can’t take it away,” Falistian said. “It is with you all your life. Every day, every day, every day.”