Man, daughter buried side by side in Acre

Shimon Zribi, 44, and his daughter Mazal, 15, were laid to rest next to each other on Friday after they died holding hands when a Hizbullah-launched rocket landed in front of their Acre home the day before. In the small cemetery outside Acre, their shroud- covered bodies were lowered into the ground in twin plots to a chorus of wails and sobs from grieving relatives. In the background, one could hear the thud of additional rockets falling in the area. Their funeral was followed by that of Albert Ben-Abu, 41, a father of five young children aged 1-15, who was a victim of the same attack. Looking at his body from the women's section, his wife Hagit almost fainted, but then stood her ground. The two brothers who were also killed in the attack, Arieh, 51, and Tiran Tamam, 31, will be buried in the same cemetery outside Acre on Sunday morning. Shimon, Mazal and Albert were all neighbors in the same apartment building in Acre. On Friday the Ben-Abu family sat shiva in the building's bomb shelter even as crews cleaned up the street outside and social workers roamed the halls. When a warning siren went off, one of Albert's sons stood in the hallway praying. Standing outside the apartment wearing a shirt torn as a part of the mourning ritual, Yossi Ben-Abu described his brother Albert as a good person who did everything he could for others. Albert worked with computers and had served in Lebanon in the 1980s, said Yossi. He showed pictures of Albert holding his newborn son last year during the circumcision ceremony, including one with Albert draped in a prayer shawl. When he heard of the attack, Yossi came to the apartment and found Albert's wife Hagit. She knew only that her husband had been wounded and taken away. Yossi said they searched for him in the Western Galilee Hospital in Nahariya only to find that he had been taken to Rambam Medical Center in Haifa for surgery. He drove there with Hagit. "We had just entered the emergency room when the hospital called to say that he had died," recalled Yossi. Unlike the Ben-Abu family, Raz Zribi, 18, and his mother Linda did not sit shiva in their apartment. Instead they received mourners on a mattress set up in the large shelter in am Acre hotel. As warning sirens rang out, the shelter filled with soldiers, guests and other families from their apartment building who had checked into the hotel along with them. Barefoot and sitting on a stool outside the shelter, wearing a torn black T-shirt and jeans, Raz was calm as he spoke of the father and sister that he lost. His father Shimon, who worked in an aluminum factory in Karmiel, "did everything for me," said Raz. "All the money he had he spent on his children, not on himself; he was the best father in the world." Raz added, "I know that he is in heaven." His sister Mazal, nicknamed "Mazzi," loved music, sports, hanging out with her friends and in particular her boyfriend. "We fought a lot and we loved each other a lot," he said. When Hizbullah first began launching rocket attacks from Lebanon in mid-July, he and his family left the city and sought shelter in Hadera. On Wednesday the owner of the guest house they were staying in wanted them to leave because he needed the rooms. Although it worked out that they could stay in the end, his father decided that enough was enough and it was time to return home. When the warning siren sounded on Thursday afternoon, he and his family went into the apartment's communal shelter. But he, Mazal and his father went out after they heard a rocket fall nearby to examine the damage. They stood on the lawn outside their apartment and that's when the second rocket hit, he said. "What happened, happened," said Raz. "There was smoke and the lawn was filled with blood," said Raz. He was lightly wounded on one finger on each hand, which were wrapped in white gauze. Still calm as he spoke, he described how he saw his sister and father lying on the ground. It was clear to him that they were dead, he said, and added, "They were holding hands."