Before boarding a flight to Bulgaria on Wednesday, Kochava Shriki, 42, got a
call from her doctor with the good news that after many unsuccessful attempts,
she was finally pregnant.
As she stood in Ben-Gurion Airport, she called
her sister, Yael Morad, to tell her how happy she was. She ended the
conversation by stating, “I’m getting on the plane in five
“Take care of yourself,” Morad responded.
Just one day
later, Morad stood in the parking lot outside of Ben-Gurion’s Terminal 1, fairly
certain that her sister was among the five Israelis killed when a suicide bomber
boarded her bus outside the airport in Burgas, Bulgaria, on Wednesday
Shriki and her husband Yitzhak of Rishon Lezion were among 154
Israelis who had flown there on vacation with the help of Israeli tourism
company Kavei Hofsha (Vacation Lines), which also provided buses to transport
them to their hotel.
On Thursday, Yitzhak flew back to Israel without his
He was among the 33 wounded from the blast who landed around 2 p.m.
on an IDF plane.
More than a dozen ambulances with flashing red lights
lined the service road by the terminal, waiting for the wounded.
and another sister, Nurit Cohen, stood in tears by the ambulances so they could
accompany Yitzhak to the Assaf Harofeh Medical Center in Tel Aviv.
vehicles drove away, they walked to their car, pausing to speak with
They told the story together, often speaking at the same time
or finishing each other’s sentences.
Morad noted that she had two other
siblings who were also out of the country, in Romania and Spain, and who were
heading back to Israel Thursday after hearing the news.
“She went for a
three-day vacation and is coming back in a coffin,” said Cohen through her
Morad said that when her husband had first called to tell her
about the explosion, she didn’t believe that her sister had been in the
“I didn’t think it could be her.
I just spoke with her,”
Then she spoke with Yitzhak from Bulgaria, who told her about
the explosion. He said that the force of the blast had sent him flying and he
had lost consciousness.
When he came to, he began looking for Kochava.
Everyone assured him that she was alive, but that they simply did not know where
she was. A number of times, he believed he had found her, only to have his hopes
He sent his wife’s family SMS updates of his search.
one message, he wrote, “She is alive, but in critical care.”
wrote, “She is alive, but in surgery.”
Morad said, “Until 4 a.m., we had
a shred of hope that she was among the wounded. But then Israeli staff came,
updated the lists, and we understood that the worst had happened.”