Eli Barzilai's tiny falafel stand in Hadera's open-air market has been a local institution for over 60 years.
David Zarihan shops for his groceries in the market every Wednesday afternoon - as he has for decades - and often stops by Barzilai's stall.
"I was standing in line next to a tall, dark, clean-shaven, well-dressed man. There was something suspicious about him. He took most of the blast, and flew into me. Everything went black, full of soot and dust. Within minutes I was in an ambulance," he told The Jerusalem Post
from his hospital bedside.
Zarihan suffered external wounds only. "I got off cheap. I'll be back in the market next Wednesday."
Yosef Kahalon, 27, and his sister Sagit, 31, were parking near the market yesterday afternoon when the suicide bomber detonated himself outside the crowded felafel stand, killing five people and wounding at least 30.
"I jumped out and ran towards the explosion site. I don't know what made me do it - everyone else was running in the opposite direction. I saw a guy whose arm was cut to shreds, and bound my shirt tightly around the arm to stop the blood. A teenager was covered with shrapnel on his back, face and arms. We put them both in the car and drove like crazy to Hillel Yaffe Hospital. There was one guy that we couldn't help - blood was pouring out of him like water from a tap," recounted Kahalon, whose T-shirt was splattered with blood.
An hour later, the brother and sister waited impatiently for news outside an operating theater where the two strangers they helped save were undergoing surgery.
"This was the first time I've been near a terrorist attack," said Sagit, a security guard and volunteer policewoman. "I saw things I never wanted to. I'll be scared to go back there again."
Hadera suffered frequent terror attacks during the second intifada, but since the completion of the separation barrier tensions in the town have perceptibly dropped. The once ubiquitous police roadblocks at the town's entrances have been replaced by occasional checkpoints.
Yet the staff of the Hillel Yaffe Hospital has continued to hold regular drills for dealing with terror attacks.
"We're permanently ready for such events. It's all too familiar," sighed hospital spokeswoman Anat Bar'am, as a grim, organized calm descended over the hospital.
The initial influx of 27 wounded - four of them seriously - was followed by a steady trickle of trauma victims late into the evening.
"I was standing about 10 meters away and was thrown onto a wall by the blast," recounted Yitzhak Ben-David, 16, who was hospitalized with superficial wounds and concussion. "I have this ringing in my ears that won't go away - nor will the memory of what I saw today."
"This won't stop us from moving around freely," said Ben-David's father, Sadi, who sat by his son's hospital bed. "I'm not saying that we must not let Arabs into Hadera, but there must be more checks on cars entering Hadera. We're in a permanent war and have no choice."
Nine-year-old cousins Svetlana and Roxoliano Kichalov, both recent immigrants from the Ukraine
, were in a nearby cake shop when the blast shattered the shop's windows.
"I don't remember anything," said the visibly shaken Roxoliano. "I won't ever go to that market again." The girls were treated at the hospital for trauma symptoms.
"We live near the market. It will take them time to realize what happened and how lucky they were," said Roxoliano's mother Vita Kichalov.
Health Minister Danny Naveh arrived in the early evening and was briefed by the hospital's director Dr. Meir
"It is clear that the Palestinian Authority
cannot or will not fight terror. This obliges us to take action and send a clear message to the terrorists," Naveh told journalists at the hospital.