Father, daughter among 5 dead in Acre

Three others killed in Ma'alot Tarshiha; 92 wounded in barrage on north.

acre rocket 298.88 (photo credit: Associated Press)
acre rocket 298.88
(photo credit: Associated Press)
A father and daughter were among the five people killed in Acre Thursday by Katyusha rockets. Shimon Ziribi, 44, and his daughter Mazal, 15, were among the Acre dead on a day in which the North was barraged with more than 160 rockets which also killed three other civilians near Ma'alot Tarshiha. One of the other Acre victims was identified as Alberto Ben-Abu, 41. It was the second time the civilian toll has reached this high during the conflict with Hizbullah; eight people were killed by a single rocket that fell on an Israel Railroads maintenance depot in Haifa on July 16. Ziribi and his daughter were standing with curious onlookers on a lawn outside their apartment building in the afternoon and looking at the spot on their street where a rocket had hit only minutes before. While that first rocket caused no fatalities, they were among four killed by shrapnel when a second rocket hit nearby. A motorist was also killed when his car hit a light pole in the town after the blast caused him to lose control. The other victims were killed by a Katyusha that landed between Ma'alot-Tarshiha and Moshav Ein Ya'acov. Micha Ma'iki, assistant to Mayor Shlomo Buchbut for Tarshiha affairs, identified them as Sha'anati Assad, 18, and Amir Naim and Mahmud Fa'ur, both 17. The three, who were farmers and close friends, were on their way to work, he said. They were driving between Tarshiha and Moshav Ein Ya'acov when a Katyusha landed some 20 meters from them. The three rushed out of the car and headed for the trees when a second rocket exploded beside them. One of them died on the spot and the other two were declared dead in the Western Galilee Hospital in Nahariya. During the day, the hospital treated more than 92 victims of the attacks, including three with serious wounds, two with moderate ones and 21 with light wounds. Two other seriously wounded people were taken to Rambam Medical Center in Haifa. "Where is Arye, why won't anyone tell me where my husband is?" asked Tzvia Tamman, an Acre resident, between sobs as she lay in a Nahariya hospital bed on Thursday evening, unaware whether the man she loved was among the Katyusha fatalities. By late last night, she was still uncertain what had happened to him. With her 10-year-old son in the bed next to her, Tamman cried when she described the moment in which her husband was hit. Like the Ziribis, he had left the safety of the communal shelter to see the destruction on the street. He was hit in the back, she said. "There was so much blood," she said. Pointing to her son she said that the two of them had held her husband until the ambulance came even though he was covered in blood. "I hugged him and I kissed him," she said. Since the attacks began three weeks ago she had wanted to leave Acre, but her husband believed they should stay. To improve their sense of safety, they had gone to the home of a relative with a good communal shelter on Thursday. It was there that they were caught in the attack in which her eight-year-old daughter was also wounded. She was undergoing surgery, said Tzvia. But it was her husband that worried her. Sobbing and holding her hand over her heart, she asked, "Why won't anyone tell me where he is. I have a bad feeling." Among the more lucky survivors of the day was Eli Ben-Haim, who lived in the same building as the Ziribi family. He said that they too had felt unsafe and had actually left for a while, only to return the day before the attack. Sitting in his upstairs apartment packing overnight bags for his family, Ben-Haim, a father of four, described for The Jerusalem Post the events of the attack that killed his neighbors. When the warning sirens rang out, he said, he and his family went down to the building's shelter. After hearing a loud explosion nearby and thinking it was safe, everyone went up to see what had happened. Ben-Haim said that he was among the cautious ones who believed he should stay in the shelter, but his two youngest children, three and eight, raced upstairs. "I yelled at them to come back in, but they didn't listen," he said as he sat at his dinning room table. He interrupted his narrative every minute to answer phone calls from well-wishers. Desperate to save the children from what he believed was impending danger, he picked them up and pushed them back into the shelter. "Then I heard the second explosion," he said. In one second a scene of curious onlookers gaping at a missile hole in their street turned into one of mayhem and confusion. All those standing by the fence were lying on the grass wounded, he said. One woman was yelling out, "Where is my husband?" he recalled. Even his own wife was so upset that she didn't notice Ben-Haim standing right next to her. She yelled out, "Eli, Eli!" He responded, "I'm standing next to you." His wife and children have since left, while he remained to pack. They are staying for the night in a hotel and then leaving the city until the attacks cease. Sighing, he noted, that the death of his neighbors occurred on Tisha Be'av, the day of mourning for the destruction of the Temples. Dan Izenberg contributed to this report.