Thursday, March 06, 2003

Out of 15 murdered (Hebrew link), nine were school kids, including a thirteen-year-old and two fourteen-year-olds.

Each day, 13-year-old Yuval Mendelevitch made sure to call his father, telling him what he had done at school and what time he would be home.

On Wednesday, the conversation was cut short when a suicide bomber blew himself up on a city bus in this northern city, killing Yuval and 14 other passengers, many of them teenagers.

"Suddenly, out of nowhere, he said, 'I love you dad.' Then the line went dead," his father Yossi Mendelevitch told Israeli army radio Thursday. "It turns out that those were his last words."

Yuval was one of three students from the prestigious Reali school killed in the blast, which ripped through the No. 37 bus a few meters (yards) from the school. Another victim, US-born Abigail Litle, was in the same grade as Yuval.

Born in Lebanon, New Hampshire, Abigail was an infant when her parents brought her to Israel in 1989 and settled in Haifa, where her father Philip, from Harrisonville, New Jersey, was studying at the Technion, Israel's premier technological institute. Her family chose to stay in the Jewish state and her father later took a job with a Baptist church.

You know, one of the things I disliked about Haifa as a teenager was that nothing ever seemed to happen there. I wanted to be where the action was. Even as far as Haifa goes, I lived in an especially quiet, sleepy suburb.

First opportunity I had I was out of there. I moved to the center of everything and never looked back. I still live in walking distance from most of the places of interest in Tel Aviv and once regularly attended demonstrations and rallies for this that and the other in Kikar Malkhei Yisrael (Kings of Israel Square, later to become Rabin Square to commemorate the murder of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin there), which is also very near my home, as if to make up for lost time.

This is why this is so hard to grasp. Things like this just don't happen there.