Israeli families torn asunder by Taba

tel aviv | In a recent photograph, Michal Alexander lounges, smiling, in a rope hammock by the Red Sea, her eyes half-closed in a relaxed, dreamy, Sinai state of bliss.

Now, just four months after that picture was taken, Alexander’s friends, family and even Prime Minister Ariel Sharon — in whose office she worked for the past four years — are grappling with her violent, untimely death.

Alexander, 27, a woman with a passion for literature and music, was killed instantly while sleeping in a palm-thatch hut when a piece of shrapnel from one of the bombs that targeted Israeli vacationers in Sinai on Oct. 7 crashed through her hut and hit her in the head.

Alexander was buried Sunday, Oct. 12, one of at least 12 Israelis killed in the coordinated bomb attacks on two Sinai resort towns.

In all, at least 32 people — among them Egyptians and Russian and Italian tourists — were killed when a truck packed with explosives rammed into the lobby of the Taba Hilton, followed by twin explosions at the Ras Satan beach resort, 30 miles down the coast.

Alexander’s friend, who lay asleep next to her when one of the Ras Satan bombs exploded, was injured but alive. She was dragged away, shouting wildly, “Where is Michal? Where is Michal?”

The devastation cut especially deep for the Ziv family of the small Galilee community of Rakefet. When they said goodnight to each other at the Taba Hilton on Oct. 7, they were a family of six — mother, father, twin teenage daughters and two sons.

But then a bomb-packed truck exploded underneath their ninth-floor hotel rooms, hurtling the parents, Zohar and Tzila, and their two sons downward into the crash of concrete, debris and flames.

Zohar Ziv survived with moderate injuries, but Tzila, 43, a teacher of Arabic, was killed — as were the two boys, Gilad, 11, and Lior, 3.

The twin girls, Yael and Sharon, 18, survived unscathed.

Because the Egyptians were delaying the bodies’ return until they had been positively identified, Lior Ziv’s body was smuggled out in a small cardboard box, the Ha’aretz newspaper reported.

Zohar Ziv was told of his wife and sons’ deaths while he was recovering in the hospital. His daughters left the hospital weeping and walking with difficulty.

Zohar Ziv’s brother Reuben said the family had been inundated with calls from people asking how they could help.

“But there is nothing to help with, no one can help us. The tragedy is terrible and it is ours,” he said.

Some of the other Israelis killed were Khalil Zeitounya, 10, of Jaffa, whose father died on the same day 10 years ago; Hafez al-Hafi, 39, from Lod, who was on holiday with his family; Roy Avisaf, 28, who had gone for a vacation with his girlfriend before the university year began; and Einat Naor, 28, from Kibbutz Zakim, whose father had to identify her by the palm of her hand and the soles of her feet.


Former Taba negotiator shocked, not surprised