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||| "I HAD A BAD PREMONITION" |||
The Dead


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Simona Rudina, 17: In Israel since three. Her family came from Vilnius in 1987. An only child.
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Mark Rudin, father: I had nothing against the girls going out to the disco. I thought Simona deserved it. She was not especially fond of that disco, but she had just passed her literature exam with the highest grade ever, and she didn’t care where she was going as long as she would have some fun. On the other hand, her friends and she had not left Tel Aviv for three months or so. With all the terrorist attacks, they were not comfortable walking along the seashore. They tried on a whole pile of clothes, and finally Simona settled on Rita’s one-sleeved black blouse with sequins, and matching black pants. For some reason, she left her watch at home. It stopped at twenty to midnight. We only noticed it about ten days later. Odd, because it was a new watch with new batteries. It hasn’t worked since. We left the house together. She said she would call in a couple of hours, but she never did. I went to a friend’s housewarming party. After a couple of hours, Yana, a friend of Simona’s, called me. She stayed at home and saw it on TV. She called a couple of minutes after the attack. I left right away. I called Irina, my wife, to say I’d call her when I have some news. As I was driving towards the Dolphinarium, I was crying. I didn’t know anything, I had no premonitions, but I was still crying.

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Mariana Medvedenko, 16: Had three brothers and sisters. Her family came from Yakutsk two and half years earlier. She went to Shevah-Mofet High School and wanted to work in computer design.
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Victor Medvedenko, father: Friday she came home from school with her friend Anya, who would be staying overnight — they were planning to go to the seaside early the next day, and Anya didn’t want to go home to Holon. On Sunday, they had an important drawing test. Mariana helped me around the house. Then the girls studied a little, listened to some music, spent some time at the computer, and then began getting ready to go out. Mariana never wore skirts — pants only. Now, for some reason, she put on a mini and paraded it around the house. And she tried to talk me into letting her kid sister Sonya join her. No way, I said; she’s fourteen years old! Mariana got angry. “Why do you never let her come with me?” My cousin Dmitry and my nephew Petya, they’re both in the Army, they told her, “Why Dolphinarium? It’s a dark, boring place — why don’t you go someplace else!” “But I told the girls from school I’d come with them,” Mariana said. “Just this once.” Maybe she wouldn’t have gone — but she promised, and she always kept her promises. Besides, it was a “Russian” disco. For teenagers, fourteen to eighteen. Before they left, I told her, “You’ll be leaving after one — anyone offers you a lift, don’t take it.” She just laughed. “Dad, I’m not a child, I understand those things.” That’s how I remember her. I was sitting outside with friends, shooting the breeze, and at half past eleven, the whole place just shook up. Well, our area is pretty noisy, they’re always building something, but I wondered: what kind of work could anyone be doing on a Friday night? I wasn’t thinking about a bombing. We stayed outside for another ten minutes, then went back in. I poured myself a cup of coffee and turned on the Russian channel on TV. At midnight, Petya calls me, “Victor, they blew up the Dolphinarium.” And then it all started.

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Yevgenia (Zhenya) Dorfman, 15: An only daughter. Came to Israel with her mother from Tashkent seven years earlier.
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Faina Dorfman, mother: In the morning, Zhenya went to work at the clothing store. She was back by six. That night — for the first time in seven years on a Friday night — I was going out for a birthday party at a restaurant. I invited her, but she would rather be with her friends. Usually, I have good instincts, but not this time. Not a ping inside. Zhenya, by contrast, had been depressed lately. I remember her saying, “Mom, we’ve got to live in the present. We don’t know what’ll happen tomorrow.” I remember once Zhenya was getting ready for a school concert. We needed to go buy tights, ballet slippers, stuff like this. “Let’s go to Dizengoff Center in Tel Aviv,” I said. “Don’t you understand?” she said. “I’m afraid.” So we went to some small store in Rishon. I often had to go to Jerusalem on business, and she always cautioned me: “Where do you think you’re going? Don’t you know the situation in the country?” I asked Zhenya which disco she was going to. It doesn’t matter, she said. My friend Olga asked her, “Zhenya, you know what’s going on, maybe you shouldn’t go?” She said she hadn’t decided yet. I really didn’t have a chance to talk to her that night; she spent all the time on the phone. So I went to the birthday party. But I didn’t feel right inside — perhaps because I had been invited alone, without Zhenya: she used to be great friends with the birthday-boy’s daughter, and then they broke up. I was sad all night, didn’t even dance or anything. And then I heard the birthday-boy’s wife say around two o’clock, “You know there was an explosion in Tel Aviv . . .” Turns out he had found out earlier but wouldn’t tell anybody, because he didn’t want to spoil the party. You always hope it’s someone else. They mentioned Dolphi, but it didn’t mean anything to me. I was sure she was elsewhere! I got a lift home, I walk in — she’s not there. And my phone was turned off. Then her girlfriend came by and told me that Zhenya was in the hospital . . .

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Ilya Gutman, 19:Came to Israel with his parents and a younger brother from Kentau, a small town in Kazakhstan. He was exempted from the Army service so he could help care for his disabled brother.
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Larisa Gutman, mother: He worked on Friday, as usual. For some reason, he looked sad. I went to work in the morning, too. I’m generally a calm person, always smiling. But that day — I don’t know why — my stomach was in knots. I couldn’t understand what was wrong with me. Only later, my coworkers told me, Larisa, you were not the same person all day long. I must have sensed something in my soul. Maybe one does have a soul, after all. After work, Ilya had a bite and took a nap. Usually, he was in such a good mood when going out, but not that night. He got dressed and said good-bye, without a hint of a smile. “Are you going to the disco?” I asked him. “I won’t stay long,” he said. He left, then he came back and gave me a long look. I told my husband later, “Ilya really looked strange. Maybe he felt something, too.” He left the house around seven-thirty, then he went over to his friend Roman’s house. They stayed there for a while, then went off to Bat Yam at the seashore. Then on to the disco. I don’t know what prompted them to go there. Could be fate. I always told him not to go where there’s a lot of people. Stop worrying, he would say; it’s going to be all right. When he was about to be drafted, he wanted to serve in Army Intelligence. He was fearless; we never talked about the possibility of his being killed or wounded. After he left, my sister-in-law came by. We sat outside, as usual, chatting. Then, at eleven-thirty or a little before then, my husband drove her home, and on the way they heard an explosion. When he came back, he said, “Larisa, there was an explosion. Maybe it’s something in the industrial area, because it was a really heavy one.” My heart just skipped a beat — I felt something. I asked him to turn on the TV. They showed the map with the Dolphinarium. I said, “Let’s go right now.” “It’s hopeless,” he said. “All the roads are blocked.” “Ilya’s there,” I said, “and something’s happened to him. His cell phone is not answering.” He never turned it off. Normally, I would call him and he would tell me where he was. “Nah, he isn’t there,” my husband said. “They usually go to the seashore.” But we did go. And I had been crying all the way. I already knew it — I already knew he was gone.

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Roman Djanashvili, 21. The youngest son. The family came to Israel seven years earlier from Tbilisi, Georgia. He went to Amal School in Jaffa and worked at a dental clinic in Holon. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Yevgenia Djanashvili, mother: Roman had been busy all week with work, school, studying for the tests, rehearsing the graduation play. He came back from school and went to lie down. Fridays, he would help me cook the Shabbat dinner. We are observant in part, and he would always ask me, What are we having for the Shabbat meal? What should I buy? He loved the whole ritual. He got up, took a shower, and we sat down to eat. I asked him where he was going. “I don’t know,” he said. “I’m too tired. Nowhere, I think.” Then his friends came by — Zhenya, Sonya, Masha, Ilya — and called him from downstairs. He went to get dressed, while I lay down to watch TV. It was odd: usually he would really dress up for the disco, but this time he was wearing regular jeans. He came up and I asked him again where he was going. Again, he said, “I don’t know. Maybe we’ll go to the disco, maybe we won’t.” He leaned over to give me a kiss and asked me what time it was. It was almost eleven. After he was gone, I was calm — at least they didn’t go to a disco. Every Friday I would tell them not to go there! I always felt this fear in the back of my mind. As if I had a premonition. Every Friday. Yet they kept going to the disco. And we had fights. Enough, I told Roman, you’re not a kid anymore, you have things to do. Mom, he said, I work three days a week, I go to school three days, Friday is the only time for me to relax. Everybody meets at the disco. Yes, he did kiss me before he left. He would never leave without a kiss. He would kiss me when he came home, he would kiss me when he left. He was so gentle. They got into a cab, and he waved, “See you later!” Those were his last words. I fell asleep in front of the TV. Then Ilya’s father called to ask me for Roman’s cell phone number. He had just gotten a new one, and I didn’t remember it by heart, so I had to go get my phone book. Then Ilya’s father called again. “His phone doesn’t answer.” I called, too — no answer. It was after midnight. Then Ilya’s father called for the third time to tell me there had been an explosion at the Dolphinarium. Then we really panicked; we went calling his friends to ask about him. Then Ilya’s parents came to pick me up, and we went looking for the kids.

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Liana Saakian, 16. Came to Israel from Moscow a year and a half earlier, with her mother and a twin brother. She went to a Tel Aviv school with emphasis on art studies. Was a gifted artist. She and her brother Petya had just celebrated their sixteenth birthday.
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Marina Berezovskaya, mother: Friday morning Liana stayed at home; she wasn’t feeling well. I was at work. I told her in no uncertain terms to clean up the apartment — finally. She did — the place was shining. She even rehung the posters in her room, so they were more even. She had a huge poster with dolphins, and another one over her bed that showed a bomb — a cannonball with a fuse. And it said, flown away for good. Everybody noticed it. She took a shower, and then Volodya came by, her math tutor, and they studied for an hour. Then Petya and she watched TV. Their father was visiting. He was supposed to go back to Moscow a week later. That night he started disciplining Liana, and she was up in arms about it. Her friend Tanya came by. Another friend, Angelina, called her to come to Ashdod, but her father was dead-set against her going there. So she said, “We’re not going to Ashdod.” I was happy she decided for herself, rather than have another fight with her father. It took them a while to get dressed, because Liana loved putting on cosmetics — fingernails, lips, eyes. She would always do something with her hair, some kind of attachment. They left about ten. She was wearing all black: the blouse, the pants, the boots. She just had a white star on her blouse, and a sequined belt. She asked me for a ring that was dear to me as a memory of my grandmother. But I gave it to her. “Make sure you don’t lose it.” I found it a couple of days later. She had left it behind for me. Before she left, she asked me how she looked. You look gorgeous, I said. Then, as I closed the door, I said, “Be careful.” Actually, I used to say this every night. Now when my son steps out I bite my tongue to prevent myself from saying it. I had no premonitions. What I said was an expression of everyday fear. They go out so late at night . . . My son, Petya, called me a few minutes after the explosion — he was with his friends nearby at the Dizengoff Center and heard the explosion, and his friends called him right away, they knew Liana was there. Petya told us he was going there, because the wounded were going to be taken to hospitals, so we went to two different ones, to find her as soon as possible.

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Irina Nepomnyaschaya, 16. Missed her seventeenth birthday by seventeen days. She came with her parents and an older brother from Tashkent four years earlier. She went to Shevah-Mofet High School, majoring in music.
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Raisa Nepomnyaschaya, mother: I don’t know what Irina was doing all day on Friday. I left for work early, and she was still asleep. But when I came home, the apartment was clean — her brother Pavlik and she cleaned up the whole place, and she even cooked pasta with meat sauce for lunch. I complimented her, Good girl! Then her friends came over, and after a while she comes out of her room and says, “Mom, Larisa wants to go out for a walk.” “But you said you weren’t going anywhere!” “I don’t really want to,” she said. “But they say I spend too much time studying, I should get some air.” They went out, they came back, I fed them, I did some work around the house. All this time they were in her room, studying for the economics test. Then they got dressed up and put on makeup. Irina put on black pants and black boots and a dark-red blouse with black dots. We’ll go for a walk, she said. I thought they would be around the neighborhood. They didn’t say anything about going to the disco. And even she had said, why wouldn’t I let her go? Why can’t she go to a disco? I asked, “Irina, why are you leaving? You said you would be studying.” “I didn’t want to,” she said, “but the girls are asking me.” She didn’t go to discoes, but her girlfriends did, and she couldn’t turn them down. She promised she wouldn’t stay late. She didn’t take her cell phone nor her passport, just her keys. “Good night, Mom.” I remember the way she looked at me. She had an oddly calm smile on her face. That’s how I remembered her. I told them, “Girls, you know the situation. Don’t go to crowded places. Be careful.” Those were my last words to them. After they left, I watched a movie on TV. Then Pavlik called and asked for the cell phone of Larisa, Irina’s girlfriend who was with her that night. Has something happened, I asked. No, nothing, he said. Then he started calling Irina’s cell phone. But she hadn’t taken it with her! All her friends called: Where’s Irina? Then Sasha called, a boy she was friendly with, and also asked where she was. I said she went to Tel Aviv with her girlfriends. “Did she go to the Dolphi Disco, by any chance?” he asked. I said I didn’t know. “What does the disco have to do with it?” “There was a terrorist attack,” he said. We turned on the TV — oh my God! We started calling Pavlik’s cell phone; he was here in Bat Yam with his friends. Turned out he knew they went to Dolphi. He said all the streets were blocked in Tel Aviv. I called Larisa’s mother. Larisa is in the Ikhilov Hospital, she said, along with other girls; but Irina wasn’t. We thought maybe she was unconscious, and she had no papers with her, and no one could find out who she was. We went to Ikhilov . . .

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Anya Kasachkova, 15. In a week, she would have celebrated her sixteenth birthday. She came to Israel almost two years earlier from Komsomolsk-on-Amur, with her mother and a younger brother. She attended Shevah Mofet High School. Her favorite class was computer drawing.
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Anna Kasachkova, mother: I don’t remember those days well. I was depressed: no money in the bank, no job . . . I wanted to go on with my studies in order to take a test for a medical license. I was afraid for Anya. A new country, a new mentality — and she was really so very young. I was afraid she’d take a wrong path. So, I always told her: I’d rather have your friends come to our house. Thursday night, Anya called me to her room. She was in front of the mirror. “A girl from our class invited us to her birthday party Friday night,” she said, “so I’m going to sleep over at Mariana’s house.” I was too tired to ask her where exactly the party was, and she didn’t tell me. She wanted to be an adult, and she didn’t want to tell me everything. I figured the party would be at the girl’s house. She couldn’t decide what to wear and asked me to pick one of three blouses for her. Later, one of them turned out to be at home, another in the bag she took with her to Mariana’s, and they never found the third one. She must have worn it to the disco. We cracked a few jokes, she made a few faces in front of the mirror, and we went to bed. She slept a bit late on Friday, so she dressed and washed her face in a rush — I don’t even remember if she had breakfast or not. Then she asked for ten shekels for carfare to go to the party that night. I don’t have a penny, I told her. The day before, I was to pay five shekels for a field trip to Holon, but our teacher had to pay for me, because I was broke. (Later, the same bus that we rode on the tour would take us to the cemetery . . .) Whenever she would run out of the house, I would give her a kiss. Even chase her to the elevator for one. That night, I did, too. On her way out, she said, “Oh Mom, again I have to tote this heavy schoolbag home on Saturday night.” Those were her last words. She left, but later in the day I felt so sick — I can’t describe it. I felt something too awful for words, as if I would go mad soon. I wondered if I had overstudied and overworked. I couldn’t sleep or do anything. I cleaned up at the kitchen. At one a.m., I opened the pharmacology textbook, and there were Anya’s pictures in it. I started looking through: here she was, a baby; here, a schoolgirl. This calmed me down. She’ll be home tomorrow, I thought; we’ll look at them together. Then I went to sleep. Suddenly, the phone rang. I looked at the clock: 3.15. I knew right away that something was wrong. Tatyana — Mariana’s mother — and I agreed that we would call each other in the morning. It was Tatyana. “Please be calm,” she said. “Our girls went to the Dolphi Disco.” “What disco?” I said. “They went to a birthday party.” “There was an explosion,” she went on, “and many died. Many were wounded, too. My husband has been to all the hospitals already, and he hasn’t found them. And they haven’t come home either.” I started screaming. I realized that something irreparable had happened. “Stop screaming,” she said. “We don’t know anything. Maybe they were scared and ran off to the sea. If you keep screaming, I’ll hang up.” “Please don’t,” I begged her. But I dropped the phone and started thrashing on the floor. Then I called Anya’s cell phone, but the voice mail picked up. I called up Mariana’s mother again to ask if she had any news. “Wait,” she said. “We don’t know yet. Victor is making a second round of the hospitals, but he hasn’t called yet. A few children haven’t been identified; they’re in surgery. Maybe our girls are among them.” Finally, I was able to explain something to my boyfriend, who is an Israeli. He wanted to go by himself. I started crying and begging him to bring me along. Only if you stop screaming, he said. I thought, how will I be able to be in a car, if the living room isn’t big enough for me to thrash in? All this time I kept thrashing and screaming, “What shall we do? Our children must be dead!” Finally, my boyfriend stuffed me in his car, and we drove to the morgue. My son stayed at home alone. I was afraid he would turn on the TV and see what’s going on and get traumatized. So I asked a girlfriend to come over and wait for him to wake up and then take him to her house. In the car, I was shaking all over, and I could barely restrain myself from screaming . . .

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Irina Osadchaya, 18. A week before the tragedy she celebrated her eighteenth birthday. She attended eleventh grade at Herzog High School in Holon. She was the only daughter of a middle-aged mother. They had come to Israel four years earlier from Lugansk.
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Bronislava Osadchaya, mother: After school, Irina was supposed to clean the stairs in the building with her friend Vika Agurenko, as they do every Friday. But that day Vika couldn’t make it, so I pitched in. We cleaned everything so well and so fast! We were in a really good mood. She was so cheerful. We stopped by the supermarket on Weitzman Square, bought some food . . . The night before, she had gone to see a dentist. She needed to take care of her gums. We wanted to buy the special toothpaste the doctor had recommended, but we forgot the piece of paper at home. No problem, Mom, she said, I’ll get it tomorrow. She never did. We stopped in the park for a Coke. At home, she rested awhile, then took a shower. Vika came by, and they went on getting ready to go out. She had always had hard time with her hair — her tresses were hard to control. But that night, it was surprisingly easy. She gave me a kiss, then ran off to get something from her room. These were her last words, “Another kiss, Mom, just make sure you don’t smudge the lipstick.” They left so happy, so joyful, so beautiful . . . She had always been beautiful. They left at ten, or maybe five minutes after. Usually, they would leave later. I asked, How come you’re leaving so early? “They’re letting in people for free tonight,” they said, “so we want to be there early, because it’s full.” They would always come back at the same time. They would split the cab fare. I left the door open so that she wouldn’t wake me up. I’m a light sleeper — once I wake up, I can’t go back to sleep. They would come back at five-thirty or six. Sometimes they didn’t have enough fare to get to Vika’s place in Bat Yam, so she would come home with Irina. She would crash in Irina’s room, and they would sleep till noon. I hated to see Irina go out, but what could I do? Forbid her, so she would do it in secret? I didn’t want to do that. We had a different kind of relationship. Sometimes you have to compromise in order to avoid conflict. And then, I didn’t want her to sit at home and hold on to my skirts. At seventeen or eighteen, that’s impossible! I had no premonitions. But what mother isn’t worried when her child goes out? Every time she would say, “Mom — stop worrying! Nothing can happen at that disco. They check you twenty times — they don’t let just anybody come in. It’s only ‘Russians,’ the same people all the time. Nothing can happen there.” She always called at the last minute before she would go in: “Mom, I’m fine, I’m going in.” You couldn’t call from the inside — it was too noisy. That night, she didn’t call me. But I didn’t start worrying before midnight. It happened before that she hadn’t called, though it was rare. I would scold her, and she would go, Mom, I’m sorry, I forgot . . . I was watching A Moscow Holiday on TV, I remember well, and then Roman, a friend of Vika’s, called: “Aunt Slava, there was an explosion at the disco, and Irina and Vika got hurt.” “What do you mean — hurt?” “I can’t say exactly,” he said. “The police pushed us away, but they’re both on the floor.” I felt lost. “Turn on the TV,” he said. “They’ll say what hospitals they’ll take the victims to.” I turned on the TV. But I didn’t see Irina there. I called up my sister. She grabbed a cab and came over with her son. I called up my employers. They have been in Israel for a long time; they started calling all the hospitals. Then my employer drove over to my place. We left Andrei, my nephew, at home, just in case. What if Irina called? And we took off to look for her.

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Yulia Sklyanik, 15. She came to Israel with her family from Tashkent eleven years earlier.
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Irina Sklyanik, mother: On Thursday we went to get Yulia a haircut, and the hairdresser asked, “Is it your birthday?” “No,” Yulia said. “It’s just that we are getting our class pictures taken tomorrow, and I want to look beautiful.” She was graduating from her middle school and starting high school. Her hair was down to her shoulder blades, and she had it cut shoulder-length, and it looked so good on her! She looked so beautiful! Friday she came back from school, and she was fighting with her sister over their belongings. “See,” she said, “Sveta wouldn’t let me wear her jeans.” Later, Sveta would find the jeans. “Look,” she said, “Yulia left them for me.” And, for some reason, she left her necklace at home — she always wore it, wouldn’t even take it off when she went to sleep. I remember distinctly what she was wearing: a black top and blue pants. She looked so beautiful when she left, with a new hairdo, with plastic butterflies in her hair. I gave her a kiss, wished her luck, and off she went. She told me they were going to Scoop Disco in Rishon. She never mentioned Dolphi. I still have no idea how she ended up there. It was some fateful turn of events. She had a friend named Shaul. She would drop everything for him. He invited her to go out on Bat Yam seafront, but, for some reason, she didn’t. Another friend of hers, Natalie Nisim, an Israeli, invited her to stay over, but she didn’t want to. Usually she didn’t go to Tel Aviv by herself. She had been there only a few times and only with her older sister. By the way, when I found out they had gone to Pacho several times, I told them I didn’t like them going there. It was Jaffa, with too many Arabs. They would laugh me off. “Nothing will happen to us. If it’s a terrorist attack, that’s fate!” I always had a premonition something would happen — but not this time. Later, it turned out I spoke to her ten minutes before the attack. I would usually call her on the cell phone, to find out how she was and where she was. This time I spoke to her at 11:33, I remember well. She called and told me they were in the line to get in. I told her to have a good time and take care of herself. And that was it. And then, twenty-five minutes later, a girlfriend called to tell me there was an explosion at Dolphi. I tried to call Yulia right away, but her phone was not answering. I called my older daughter. She was in shock. Everything went spinning . . . I called up my husband, he came over, and we ran off looking for her . . .

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Diaz Nurmanov, 21. Came from Tashkent less than two years earlier. Single. Served in the Army.
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Victor Komozdrazhnikov, friend/roommate: We both woke up around noon. I was typing up something on the computer. Diaz asked me if I had any video games. I said, Yes, I have some Air Planes, I’ll set you up. Then my cousin Tanya came over with her boyfriend Nir. They were going over to Megapolis Disco and invited us along. Sure, I said, what’s the point of staying at home? Diaz just came back from his base the night before. He wanted to come, too, and he put a lot of gel on his hair. I told him after we left: What’s the point? You put on the bike helmet, all your beauty will get crumpled. It’s all right, he said, I’ll fix it somehow. Then he suggested we stop by Dolphi, his girlfriend Natalie was there; we’d pick her up and go to Megapolis all together. How? I asked. I got a motorbike, but there’s three of us. We’ll get a cab at Dolphi, he said, and you’ll follow us. So we took my bike and arranged with Tanya that we’d all meet at eleven outside Megapolis. That’s when it opens. We left the house at ten-thirty. It’s seven minutes from my house to Dolphinarium; I had timed myself once. But that night it took fifty minutes. No left turn, no right turn — we had to go in circles. So we got there at twenty after eleven.
Svetlana Gubnitskaya, a storekeeper (Victor and Diaz’s apartment was upstairs from her store): The boys lived right here, above my store. They lived by themselves, so they came here often. Most of all, they needed motherly care. But Diaz was very focused, very solid of character. He wanted to be useful to the country where he lived. When he found out that here the kids served in the Army for real, not just to do their time, he volunteered. He got a leave that day. He was making plans to go visit his mom. He missed her so much! But she lived in Moscow and had no plans to come to Israel, because she had a baby. Also, she knew it wasn’t quiet here. She kept trying to talk Diaz into going back or moving to America. “No America, Mom,” he would tell her. “There’s only one country — Israel.” He kept trying to convince her of that. That day, Friday, he called her three times, begging her to come. It was as if his soul was crying out. When this disaster happened, the embassy helped, and his mother was here the next day. She still could not realize that something irrevocable happened. He came home on leave on that day, he rested a little. He had a very nice girlfriend, Natasha, fifteen years old — just a baby. Unfortunately, here kids act older than their age. Because of what happens . . . That night they wanted to go out on the sea promenade. What else do the young people need? And there was a Russian disco next door.

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Maria (Masha) Tagiltseva, 14. The only daughter. Emigrated with her mother two years earlier from Kamensk-Uralski.
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Olga Tagiltseva, mother: I was leaving work on Thursday, and I said to this woman, “Irina, I feel so sad, and I don’t know why.” “What’s wrong with you?” she said. “You’re doing fine. You have Masha. You have friends. What’s there to be sad about?” And then it all happened. And I knew why I had felt sad. On Friday, Masha went to the park with her girlfriends. Then we had dinner, and she got ready to go out, putting on makeup. She asked, “Is it okay if I go to a disco in Promzona with the girls?” Every Friday we fought about it: I wouldn’t let her go. I’ve always been against it. But she was growing. She wanted to go out with the girls someplace. And I wouldn’t let her go anywhere. She cursed and threatened and made scenes — Mom, I can’t be at home all the time! That night, I thought: How can I hold her back? I can’t. She’s a teenager. So I said, Fine. We had bought her open-toed shoes recently, but they were a little tight. She asked me, “Mom, what should I wear, the open-toe or the closed-toe?” “You should wear whatever you’re comfortable in.” She put on black pants and a black blouse. “Why are you wearing all black?” I asked her. “You don’t dress like this usually.” “I feel like it,” she said. Now I think she knew where she was going, and she was upset that she had to lie to me. If she had told me she was going to a disco in Tel Aviv, I wouldn’t have let her. And then she wouldn’t have gone. She had thirteen shekels only — just enough to get to Promzona and back. That’s what I gave her for the fare. I had no idea she would be going to Tel Aviv. I went to a caf? on the sea promenade with my friends. She had another girlfriend who was supposed to go with them but didn’t, and in the evening, that girl’s mother called me. “Did you know there was an explosion in Tel Aviv?” “What happened?” I asked. “Masha was there,” she said. “That’s impossible,” I said. “She’d just called us here, at eleven-thirty.” We drove back home and turned on the news and called everywhere. I called her cell phone — the voice mail picked up. I froze with horror. We called up a friend who worked in Holon. He called every hospital, but she wasn’t anywhere. He told us to go to the morgue to make sure she wasn’t there. And so, we went to the morgue.

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Raisa Nemirovskaya, 15. She came to Israel from Tashkent with her mother seven years earlier.
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Lyubov Nemirovskaya, mother: After school, Raisa met with her friend Marina, and they agreed to go out to a disco in the evening. I think the reason they picked this one was that entry was free for girls. We had not been doing too well lately. Of course, she didn’t tell me it was in Tel Aviv. I thought it was here, in Netania. This was the first time ever she went to Tel Aviv. She was in a very good mood. But she was wearing all black. I didn’t like that. I told her to wear at least something white, either top or bottom. But she didn’t want to. She said she would come home as usual, so I shouldn’t worry. I didn’t; I watched TV and waited for her. I thought she’d be back at one or two, and when she wasn’t, I became worried. And then Marina’s parents came and told me everything. And we went looking for them together. It was almost morning when we found out about the tragedy.

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Sergei Panchenko, 20. Came to Israel on a tourist visa from Komsomolsk-on-Dnieper. His mother’s only son.
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Natalia Panchenko-Sannikova, mother: After work, my husband and I decided to go to the sauna. My son was coming back from work as we were leaving the house — we saw him for ten minutes at the most. He stayed at home, turned on the washing machine as I’d asked him. About ten, I called his cell phone; he told me he had done everything and was going out to the disco. At home, all was ready for making kebabs. We came back from the sauna, set up the grill, and at midnight, an Israeli neighbor told us there was an explosion at Dolphi. We dropped the kebabs, went back to the house, and turned on the TV. It flashed the phone numbers we were supposed to call. I peered at the screen — they were showing it live — looking for his face. I kept calling his phone all night long, from twelve to five. And, about five, someone picked up. I was overjoyed, but it was not him. I was asked to come to the hospital, that was all. I took a cab and went to the Ikhilov Hospital.

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Yelena and Yulia Nalimovas, 18 and 16. Came to Israel five and a half years earlier from Yekaterinburg with their mother, grandmother, and younger brother. They attended Shevah-Mofet High School.
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Alla Nalimova, mother: They were at school during the day, and in the evening they were planning to go to the disco. The younger one, Yulia, had just had her birthday on May 29, so they were going to celebrate. After school, they asked me to take them shopping: We have already worn everything in the closet to the disco, can we have something new? So we went to Carmel. We checked out some sales, and I bought a pair of tight pants for one, and a pair of jodhpurs for the other, plus some tiny T-shirts. They looked so good in them, and they were so happy . . . For Yulia’s birthday, her friends had thrown her a surprise party. She came home with a pile of presents, happy and joyful.
Faina Nalimova, grandmother: Alla still had the dresses she had worn when she was a young girl. She said to the girls, “Why don’t you try them on, let me see what I used to look like when I was young . . .” They put on those dresses, and they went wild, fooling around while Alla was taking pictures.

Alla, mother: I can’t get around to developing that film. Can’t bring myself to it. In the evening, they were dressing up to go to the disco. I helped Yulia to tie her hair and intertwine it with white rubber bands. And I scolded Lena: did she have to use green nail polish? “You see, Mama,” she said, “they have this strobe light in the disco, it will look really cool.” They went to this disco every Friday. Yulia was afraid to be late, so she kept rushing Lena. Fridays they always went on foot; they didn’t have the money for taxi. As for the disco, they earned the money themselves, by waitressing one day a week.

Grandmother: We were really afraid for them and warned them not to take the bus — better go on foot. And not to go to places where there’s a lot of people. But this disco seemed so safe. All their friends, all their girlfriends went there.

Mother: Who would imagine that a terrorist would go blow up a Russian disco? We wouldn’t even think about that! I let them go without any worries. I just told them to keep their cell phones on and to stay in touch . . . Last time I saw them was at half past ten. “We’re on our way,” they said. As usual, Grandma said, “God be with you!” They said they would come back at five or half past. And they left.

Grandmother: I was always heartsick for them. I couldn’t fall asleep until they come back. They’d come back, I would fall asleep instantly. Before that, I would just pace around the apartment. Alla, too, went out that night. I stayed up with Sasha, the youngest boy, he is fourteen, and watched TV. And he must have heard on TV that there had been a terrorist attack at the place they went to. And I’m just sitting there like a dummy because I don’t understand Hebrew. Sasha started calling all the hospitals. And everywhere they said, No, no, no . . . And then his mother came home and cried out, Sasha, come here! She heard it all, too.

Mother: I was out. Someone turned on the radio in the car, and I heard about the explosion. It was midnight. I called them on their cell phones right away, but they didn’t answer. I thought, by the time I make it to the disco, they’ll take them away. So I went around the hospitals right away.

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Aleksei Lupalo, 17. Came with his parents from Komsomolsk-on-Dnieper a year and a half earlier. He had a job; he helped his parents and saved money for school. He wanted to be a lawyer.
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Ivan Lupalo, father: Aleksei got up early, because at five-thirty in the morning he already had to be in Tel Aviv. I got up ahead of him, made him a light breakfast. He was supposed to work till ten in the evening, but they were missing some materials, and he was home by six. My wife and I were coming back from the market, so he popped out and helped us with the bags. We were cooking supper, but he was in a rush to meet with his friends. We had brought some cake for tea that we thought he’d have with us. “No,” he said, “that’s after the disco. Wait up for me.” We couldn’t forbid him to go out — he worked so hard, he needed to have a little fun with his friends. They didn’t even go to the disco that much, mostly they would just sit outside, playing guitars, listening to music, or visiting with one another. That day we knew he was going to the disco, but we were not worried; it was not the first time, and everything was always fine. We didn’t think it could happen at the disco. We were sure that this misery would not come our way.
Lyubov Lupalo, mother: Still, we were always worried. We always waited up for him. We wouldn’t go to sleep, we would listen to steps outside. He would tiptoe inside, he was afraid of waking us up; he thought we were asleep. When we heard about the disco explosion, we dialed his cell phone, but he didn’t answer. Knowing him, we thought he wasn’t answering because he was helping someone else and didn’t have time to answer.

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Jan Blum, 25. Worked as a security guard at the Dolphi. He arrived in Israel six months earlier from Kiev with his wife and daughter.
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Irina Blum, wife: That was his first job in Israel. Many friends told him, Jan, you shouldn’t do this job. But he liked it: the Russian disco, the socializing . . . he went to work with pleasure. He had been working there for only six months. The day before, on Thursday, he worked at his other job – a night watchman at a small amusement park next to the Dolphi. On Friday he came home from work, went shopping for food, picked up the kid from the kindergarten, and we took a nap. Then we had a bite, and he left for work. He wanted to make it his last day at work and leave for vacation next week. We had already bought plane tickets to visit our parents in Ukraine. He left at eight. I’m thinking now: he didn’t really want to go. He asked me, “Maybe I should take a day off?” “Fine,” I said. “Ah,” he said, “one more shift at the disco, and that’s it.” And that was really it. I remember, he took with him a Maccabi Clinic plastic card that he had never taken before. His friends told me later that he suddenly pulled it out in front of everybody and joked, “Does everybody have his hospital card?” He left his cell phone at home. He said to me, as usual, “See you in the morning!” And he was gone. I went for a walk with the baby and put her to bed. About midnight, Sergei’s mother came by, Sergei’s a friend of Jan’s, and his father was there, too, and we all watched TV. And suddenly Sergei called and told us about the explosion. We started calling Jan’s friends right away, and they told me not to worry, nothing bad would happen to him. When I found out Jan was in the explosion, we went to the hospital right away.

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Marina Berkovskaya, 17. Came to Israel with her parents from Tashkent four and a half years earlier. She attended Shevah Mofet High School.
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Lilia Zhukovskaya, mother: Marina had her birthday on May 21, shortly before the explosion. Everybody called to wish her a happy birthday, and she got a card from her girlfriend in Tashkent. On Friday, she was at school. She came home, I fed her lunch. Then her math tutor came. They were supposed to study for an hour and a half, but after an hour, she came out to tell me she wasn’t feeling well. She was uncomfortable telling him herself, so she asked me to. After he left, I settled on the couch to watch TV, and she put her head in my lap and fell asleep. While she was asleep, her cell phone rang, but I didn’t want to wake her up. Later, she woke up and asked me, “Why didn’t you wake me up? Natasha is inviting me to the disco. We’ll have exams for a whole month — this is the last chance to have fun.” She had been to that disco a week earlier, for the first time in her life. She felt closer to the Russian crowd, and she wanted to go to a Russian disco. I begged her not to go — it was noisy, and you had to dance, and she wasn’t feeling well. But she promised Natasha she would go. So she went on dressing up and putting on makeup. She asked me what she should wear. Lately she had lost weight, she became so slim, with a nice trim figure. She stuck to her diet — the boys like slender girls, she said. She wore a pink top and a new necklace with a butterfly pendant. That necklace, that butterfly, those earrings — I had to draw them a hundred times when they asked me to identify her in the morgue . . . She didn’t take her keys, nor the cell phone — she didn’t want to drag her bag. “You go to bed,” she said before she left; “when I ring the bell, open the door, but don’t turn on the light, and don’t open your eyes so you could stay asleep.” Natasha and she wanted to go early, without waiting for friends, because girls could go in for free before midnight. If only she had waited for her friends! They came there five minutes after the blast — and saw everything. She asked me if I would walk her to the bus stop. I told her I would pick up Charley, our dog, and we’d walk her together. I came back and took a shower. That’s why, with the water running, I didn’t hear the explosion. I made her bed, so she could go to bed right away, and put in her favorite teddy bear. It was ten past midnight, I was about to go bed, when some boy called and asked for her. “She went to the disco with her girlfriend,” I said; “who are you?” “A classmate,” he said, and hung up. Five minutes later, another call — from Masha. She asked about Marina, too. I told her also that Marina and Natasha were at the disco. “What’s wrong?” I asked her. “Why are you calling in the middle of the night?” “There was an explosion at Dolphinarium,” she said. I asked her if she had Natasha’s cell phone number. She gave it to me, and I called — but no one answered. Then the calls were coming nonstop. I asked someone: how do I find out what’s going on? I was told I had to turn the TV on, they’re showing everything. So I did, and I saw it all. I moved the phone close to me, and Marina’s and my cell phones, too, and they kept ringing, and people kept asking about her, and I didn’t know what to say. I just kept saying she wasn’t here. Finally, I reached Natasha. She said Marina wasn’t with her. “So where is she?” She said she didn’t know. “There was a heavy explosion, everyone was afraid there would be another one, we were told to run, and so we did, but I don’t know where she is.” “So find her!” I said. Then the TV broadcast the hospital phone numbers, and I began calling, but the lines were busy all the time. And everywhere they were telling me, No, we don’t have her. And so I kept running from TV to the phones, because the calls still kept coming. Then they broadcast the City Hall’s phone number, and I called there and asked for help — maybe they didn’t understand my bad Hebrew. The City Hall worker called the hospitals, and then she called me back to tell me she had had no luck so far, but the lists are still incomplete, so maybe they’ll find her. Then they broadcast the number for the Abu Kabir morgue. I called and got through and gave them her description: what she was wearing, what jewelry, and what special features she had. All this time I kept glancing at my watch, trying to calculate: the buses are not running, she could be in a shock, walking slowly, so it’s another half an hour, another ten minutes, she should be here any minute, she would ring me from downstairs to buzz her in. Then Natasha called: we should go to the hospital. How am I going to leave, I said, if Marina has no keys? And which hospital? She called back at four to say that she was coming over with her mother and her brother, and I should come downstairs, and we’ll go together. I kept thinking: how will Marina get inside if I’m not here? So I left her a note, Marina, Natasha and I went looking for you. Don’t leave, and call my cell phone. I have both our phones. And so we went looking for her.

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Catrin Castaneda, 15. Came with her mother and stepfather to Israel from Columbia six years earlier. She was friends with Alena Shaportova.
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Ludi, mother: I found out what happened from TV. My husband was watching, and he asked me, Where’s Catrin? At the Dolphi Disco, I said. He told me there was an explosion there. We saw a girl who looked like Alena on TV, but it wasn’t her. We didn’t see Catrin on TV, but we knew she was there! So we went to the hospital to look for her.

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Uri Shahar, 32. Had no plans to go to the disco. After a long working week, he went for a walk on the seaside promenade. His car was parked close to Dolphi. The shock wave caught up with him as he was pulling out. Uri was single and had no children. He worked with children at Ramat Gan’s community center. Everybody loved him. At all subsequent functions, his family was represented by two middle-aged women, presumably his mother and aunt.
The Wounded

Alena Shaportova arrived at the Ikhilov Hospital in critical condition. A metal piece of the explosive device pierced her skull over an eyebrow and stopped in the brain tissue. The entire left hemisphere of her brain was destroyed. She underwent about ten complicated neurosurgeries. Twelve days after the attack, she got out of her coma and opened her eyes. Of those who had arrived in this condition, she was the only one to survive; the rest of the girls died. She is still in the Levenshteyn Rehab Center in Ra’anana, and will stay there for a long time. Currently she is half-paralyzed. On October 11, 2001, she turned fifteen.
Igor Shaportov, father: Alena begged me to let her go to the disco with her friend Catrin Castaneda (who was blown apart on the spot). A friend of ours had a birthday party at the Olympus Restaurant in Rishon. Things went wrong from the start: we left something behind, we lost our way . . . About ten, my wife said she had a bad premonition, she was going to call Alena and tell her to go home. Why bug her, I said; there’s no one at home anyway. Especially since her friend and she had spent so much time dressing up. I told her not to call. They’re young people, they want to have fun. I didn’t think this was going to happen. As for my wife, a mother’s heart senses trouble. It has been proven more than once. I wish she had called, but — what happened, happened. Finally, we arrived at the restaurant, and all the guests were wearing black. That looked weird. What’s going on, I asked; are we having a wake here? The birthday-girl’s brother was with the police. He called up right after the attack to tell us about it. And we knew that Alena had gone there. We called her cell phone — no one was picking up. No one was in the celebration mood anymore. We all went looking for her. Alena doesn’t remember the moment of the explosion. The doctor said she had felt no pain. That is, she blacked out right away. And she doesn’t remember anything that happened, although the ambulance doctor says she was conscious for ten minutes. Maybe she was in shock from pain. But I’m not a doctor; I can’t tell.
           

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Nadezhda Derenshteyn, 18. Two broken ribs, punctured lung, busted eardrum. Wounded in both legs, splinter wounds all over her body.
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Nadezhda: I wanted to go to the disco, and my mom wouldn’t let me. I made a scene — it was Friday night, I had to go out. It was a long fight, but finally I won. I was still upset and crying when I called my friend Anya — everybody’s nasty, Mom doesn’t understand me, I’ll stay over at your house. I came over to her house, still sobbing. She calmed me down and said, “Nadezhda, we’ve got to do something to take your mind off it.” “Where shall we go,” I said, “I’m broke!” “Never mind,” she said, “I can get some money from my mom.” She got dressed, and we decided to go to Dolphi, because you could get in for free there. Anya knew that place, but I had never gone there. A black cat crossed the road twice — bad omen! Anya said, “Maybe we shouldn’t go.” “The hell with it,” I said. We got into a cab, and I remember how I begged the driver not to charge us more than twenty-five because we had only fifty, just enough for a round trip. He agreed and dropped us off at the mosque on the promenade. “Come back in peace.” So we did. But to the hospital instead of home. And in an ambulance instead of a cab.

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Anya Sinichkina, 16. Leg and head wounds. Partial loss of eyesight, broken eardrum, lingering hearing problems.
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Anya: I was staying at home. My boyfriend Ilya said, “Anya, I’m sorry, but I don’t have the money for both of us. I’ve been invited to Yellow Club in Jaffa, and if we like it, next Friday we’ll go together. Will you forgive me?” “Of course,” I said. “No hard feelings. I’ll stay home with Mom.” After they left, I took a bath. And then suddenly Nadezhda called me. I thought something happened. I’ve had a fight with everybody, she said. So come on over, I said. She came up, all teary-eyed, and said, “I wanna die.” “Are you stupid,” I said, “talking like that!” So after a while I said, “Listen, we should do something.” “But where shall we go?” she said. “I got no money.” “Let’s go to Dolphi,” I said. “What about Ilya?” she said. “He went to Yellow with Roman.” “Great,” she said. “Without boyfriends, we can really have a ball!” My mom said, “Anya, with this situation in the country — what disco?” “Russians don’t get blown up,” I said. “We won’t stay long. I’ll even leave my keys at home.” Nadezhda left both her wallet and cell phone at my house. We just took our passports, and I took my cell phone. And we took off.

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Raisa Belalova, 15. Both she and her brother Sasha still have many fragments in their bodies, and they are still facing several extraction surgeries.
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Raisa: We wanted to go to the disco to celebrate Karina’s birthday; she’s my friend and my brother’s girlfriend. My girlfriend and I tried to talk Karina and my brother into going to another disco, an Israeli one. But they wanted to go to a Russian one, because there was no charge for girls. When I found out, I was not dressed up, no makeup, and no money. My girlfriend and I took off our shoes and ran home. We made it in five minutes, almost all the way across town! It was already eight-thirty. The community cab was leaving at nine sharp. We grabbed some money and ran back — and we made it, all sweaty. But we even managed to put on the makeup in the cab. I said, Let’s go for a couple of hours to the freebie place, Dolphi, and then this other place called Trillenium. Fine, my girlfriend said. But we didn’t make it to either place.

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Rita Abramova, 17. A metal ball punctured her lung and descended into her diaphragm. She could not breathe. They pumped blood out of her lung. She might still have a surgery to have the ball extracted. Triple arm fracture. She has a steel rod in her broken leg, from her hip to her knee.
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Rita: Two or three days earlier, I saw an ad: Fridays, Dolphi did not charge girls for entry. I called up my friend Simona: Do you want to go? We’ll see, she said. We had exams on Friday. We go to different schools. She had a literature exam, and I had math. She called me up to say that she got the highest grade in her class. She was so happy! And I did pretty well, too. So we decided — we had stayed home all week studying — tonight we were going out! So if Dolphi would let us in for free, let’s go dancing to Dolphi. We didn’t have any bad premonitions, but just before that, there was a bombing attempt in Jerusalem, in the disco area. Actually, whenever there was a bombing, Simona and I talked about it — it could have been me or her or someone we knew. Maybe a thought of danger flashed through my mind, but that very night? At Dolphi? You always think: Why should it happen exactly at the time and the place where you will be? Simona was my best friend, Simona Rudina who died — we were inseparable, wherever we went, we went together. We didn’t go to this disco often, maybe three or four times. If we went out on Friday, I would come over to her house, we would dress up, put on makeup, and leave from her place. That’s what we did that night, too. We didn’t decide to go to Dolphi right away. While we were dressing up (and we would generally try on a hundred pieces of everything before deciding), she had a fight with her father, and she was in a lousy mood. “I’m not going anywhere,” she said. “But we’re almost dressed!” I said. “Won’t you feel sorry to spend a whole night at home?” “Fine,” she said; “we’ll just go for a walk on the promenade, but we won’t go to Dolphi.” “Fine,” I said — anything, just to leave the house. We took a cab. Then my mom called, and I talked her into letting me sleep over at Simona’s. When I told her, she jumped with joy and said, “Okay, then first we’ll go to Dolphi, then we’ll go for a walk, and then we’ll go back to my place.”

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Polina Haritonskaya, 16. Leg wound, hair burned.
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Polina: I wasn’t going out that night, and then all of a sudden my friend Natasha called and screamed with joy, Get dressed, quick, Dolphi is free tonight! A hour and a half later, we were in a cab on our way to Dolphi.

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Maksim Malchenko, 19. Open fractures of both legs, a shoulder wound. A nerve damaged in a leg; he can’t move his toes.
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Maksim: Friday I came home from work and got dressed to go to the disco. We had been planning it all week. We arranged to meet outside with Aleksei and Sergei — they both died. We had been going to that place since it opened. It was “our” place. A week before that, I met this girl named Alina, whom I also invited. I left the house around ten and went to pick her up. She lives near Dizengoff, there was still plenty of time, so we decided to walk. We got there first, then Alex and Sergei arrived. Everything was fine. Everything was as usual.

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Sonya Shistik, 17. Spinal damage, arm nerve damage, a fragment in the lung, a leg fracture.
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Sonya: I started going to Dolphi soon after it opened — in October, I think. I went there every Friday. I didn’t want to go that night, I had an upset stomach. But all my friends went, so I did, too. About that time . . . both my best friend, Zhenya Dorfman, and I had a bad premonition. But we expected a car accident. I don’t know why, but I had had this feeling all week.

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Polina Valis, 18. Fragments in her back and arm. Pieces of muscular tissue torn out in the knee area on both legs. Eardrum shattered. Another fragment stuck in the sole of her foot.
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Polina: After school, I went to take a nap. I needed some rest, because I knew I would be dancing all night. I wanted to go, because I had spent two months cramming for graduation exams, and on Thursday, the day before, I had a Civil Law exam, and I got a very good grade. So I decided I’d celebrate. I also hesitated whether I should go, because the next week I had a math exam. But then I decided to go. I arranged to go to Dolphi with my friend Emma Skulishevskaya. She had a part-time job there, selling tickets. I go to school in Northern Tel Aviv, and everybody there has an attitude, like, Screw that. Everybody’s sure nothing will ever happen to them. I had this confidence, too. My girlfriend and I always took bus 25 to school, and it was always full of Arabs coming from the market with their huge bags. And we always cracked jokes about the bomb going off any minute. I don’t really know if it’s fate or just a joke, but I was cramming for the math exam and told my friend: Fine, let the bus blow up in the morning, then I won’t have to take the exam.

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Katya Pelina, 16. Fragment wounds and burns. Neural damage on both legs, broken artery under her left knee.
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Katya: I didn’t go to school because my mom was coming back from vacation that day. Then my girlfriends came over and suggested we go to a disco. I agreed right away. I didn’t go to discos much. It would be my second time at Dolphi. I liked it there the first time. Later, I got into a bad mood, and I didn’t feel like going. Before we left, my mom tried to talk me out of it: “I just got here, we haven’t seen each other for a while, maybe you’ll stay?” “Don’t worry,” I said; “they don’t blow up Russian discos.”

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Daniel Shakhmurov, 17. Lost his hearing. He still is in a clinical depression.
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Daniel: I used to go to Dolphi every Friday. But this time I didn’t feel like going — my friends couldn’t go because they had no money. I didn’t have any, either. This time neither Mom nor Grandma had any, and my sister gave me her last eighty shekels — she could see how badly I wanted to go because my girlfriend invited me. And so I went.

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