News story brings grief, terror

JERUSALEM — Marcell and Gabriel Dahan read about their 17-year-old daughter's death in the newspaper at 6 a.m. last Thursday, hours before Afula police officers came to their door midmorning to confirm that their smiling curly-haired child was gone.

"It was painful to see it there first before anyone called us," Marcell said. "But I wasn't shocked. I was just filled with tears and pain."

She and her family had spent a sleepless night. They had feared the worst for almost 24 hours, ever since hearing that a bus had exploded in a terrorist attack at the Megiddo Junction early last Wednesday morning, in which 17 people were killed.

It was the second time in two months they had lost a child. On April 8, their son, Shlomi, 26, died in a hiking accident in Eilat.

They knew their youngest daughter, Adi, 17, was on the bus, Marcell said last Friday. Adi had spent the night in Tel Aviv visiting her boyfriend, but had awakened at the crack of dawn to be back in Afula to baby-sit for her 9-month-old niece.

Adi called her sister, Galit, 29, as the bus neared the Megiddo Junction to tell her, "I'll be at your house in 10 minutes."

Minutes later, Galit, who lives near the bus station, heard ambulances streaming past her home. "I knew something had happened. I didn't have a good feeling. Then I saw the news on television," Galit said. And Adi did not arrive as promised.

"I had to call my mother. I didn't know what to say, but I had no choice, I had to tell her."

Marcell said the moment Galit called she panicked. She and her husband looked for Adi in all the hospitals, but could not find her. They went to the information center. Her identity card had been found on the bus, but her name wasn't on any of the casualty lists.

"They said go home," recalled Marcell, who only wanted Adi to be alive. "I didn't care if she was missing an arm or a leg. But at some point you know there is no hope. The area by the attack had returned to normal. Where would she be if she wasn't dead?"

A social worker from the city called. She said there was an unidentified body that appeared to be Adi's age, could they come?

"I didn't want to go; no one wanted to go," Marcell said. The social worker told her maybe it was better this way. The body was mangled; it wasn't clear whether they would be able to recognize her.

Instead, the whole family went to the hospital and gave blood for identification, said Marcell, pointing to the bruise on her arm from the needle. Then they waited some more, sleeping only fitfully through the night.

Galit said that since her brother's death she fears more for the safety of her remaining two siblings. "After a death, you want to hold on tighter to those you love." Her brother, Doron, 24, had the opposite reaction. He thought Shlomi's death had made them immune from further disaster.

"But God has a mysterious way of letting you know that anything can happen," Doron said. From their family of four close siblings, only he and Galit remain.

On the day of the attack, Adi's cousin Natalie, a dancer in New York, appeared in a special performance for the firefighters who were on the scene of the World Trade Center disaster.

In a letter she sent with her father who came from the United States to be with his family, she wrote, "I hear your tears all the way here, and I am crying with you.

"I have only good memories of Shlomi and Adi…The only positive thing I can think of is that they are both together now. Be strong."