A familiar tragedy at Netanya mall

netanya | A pregnant policewoman came running after a tall young man heading toward the Sharon Mall carrying a large black bag and shouted out, “Terrorist! Terrorist!”

Chaim Amram, the security guard on duty, took the suspect aside and pushed him against the wall, but it was too late — the bomber triggered his explosives, killing Amram and four others. Dozens more were wounded.

The victims had little in common except for the fatal timing of their visit Monday, Dec. 5 to the Sharon Mall, a major shopping center in the seaside city of Netanya. The bomber was identified as a 21-year-old Islamic Jihad terrorist from the West Bank.

Amram, 26, knew the dangers of his job: He had been at work there during two previous suicide bombings at the mall.

“He was gentle, but a person who was not scared of anything,” his friend Rami Tamam told the Ma’ariv newspaper.

Amram, who planned to study psychology, had been saving money for a trip to Thailand, where friends say he planned to surprise his girlfriend with a marriage proposal.

A few feet away from Amram, Iliya Rosen, 38, a psychologist and mother of three, was just leaving the mall after a shopping expedition for clothes for the job she was scheduled to begin next week. She, too, was killed instantly by the blast, which poured thick gray smoke onto the sidewalk and sent bodies and glass flying.

Rosen had walked speedily out of the mall, telling a friend that she didn’t feel comfortable being there.

Her friend, identified by her first name, Orit, in the Israeli media, said she teased her, saying, “I asked her, ‘Where are you rushing to? Are you scared of being in the next terror attack?'”

A moment later, Rosen was dead.

From her hospital bed, Orit, who suffered light injuries, tried to digest the horror.

“The police said she was dead and they could not treat her, but I refused to leave,” she said, bursting into tears and turning her face away from TV cameras and into her pillow, where she was filmed sobbing.

It was the job of Rosen’s brother, meanwhile, to help prevent terror attacks. Lt. Col. Shai Zindreiss has been the officer in charge of operations along the West Bank security barrier for the past two years. He received word of his sister’s death during a meeting with army officials about the attack.

“I lost my sister, my angel,” Zindreiss told Ma’ariv.

Dani Golani, 45, who had come from Nahariya to Netanya to explore whether he might open a clothing store in the mall, also was among those killed. Active in Nahariya local politics, he was remembered warmly by friends and family.

“It was hard to separate him from his smile. He loved to live, and loved his family,” said Tzion Lankari, a Nahariya council member and longtime friend of Golani. “This was a person one could always trust and turn to during difficult times. He was a rock. He wasn’t scared of anything.”

The attack also took the life of Alexandra Gramitzky, 65, who immigrated to Israel in 1997 from Ukraine, where she had worked as an accounts manager. She lived in Netanya with her son and his family.

When her son, Andrei Gramitzky, heard about the bombing on the radio, he feared for his mother’s life, knowing she would be in the area at around the same time.

“She was an amazing woman … this is a terrible loss for us,” he told the Yediot Achronot newspaper.

The youngest victim of the bombing was Keinan Tzoami, who turned 20 last month. Tzoami was remembered as a good-natured young man with lots of friends. He worked with his father at a family carpentry business.

His grandmother entered the house where he had lived with his parents and wailed, “Bring me my grandson. I just want my grandson.”

The Israel Defense Forces are preparing for widespread retaliatory operations in the West Bank and strikes in the Gaza Strip. Ha’aretz reported that the operation could last up to a month.

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz ordered security forces to wage an intensified crackdown on Islamic Jihad in the northern West Bank. Reinforced army units are expected to reoccupy villages where Islamic Jihad terrorists are hiding. The Jerusalem Post reported the army is severely restricting travel in the West Bank, and Israel has clamped a near-complete closure on the territories.

JTA correspondent Dan Baron contributed to this report.