Bulgaria Terror Victims HY”D & Their Stories

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The bodies of the five Israelis murdered in the Bulgaria terror attack have been flown home to Eretz Yisrael for Kvura on erev Shabbos, Rosh Chodesh Menachem Av 5772. They were flown back to Israel on an Israel Air Force Hercules C-130 transport, landing in the middle of the night (Rosh Chodesh Av) Israel time.

An IDF honor guard was waiting for the plane to touch down along with IDF Chief Rabbi Brigadier-General Rafi Peretz and Minister of Tourism Stas Misezhnikov.

The family of Kochava Shriki HY”D explained moments before boarding the flight to leave Israel for Bulgaria she spoke with her sisters, explaining how ecstatic she was for only a few hours earlier she was informed by her doctor that after years of fertility treatments, she was pregnant. For sisters Norit Cohen and Yael Morad, there could not have been better news but that simcha soon turned to aveilus.

One of the sisters told reporters in an anguished voice that Kochava and her husband Yitzchak were going to vacation in Burgas. After hearing of the attack they began the frantic search to track her down, becoming even more concerned after realizing her name did not appear on the victims list. It was over 15 hours later until they finally realized she was one of the Israelis killed in the blast.

Yitzchak told reporters that they got on the bus and sat in the fourth row when suddenly, he felt the blast from his left side. “I was in a haze” for a short time he explained, after which he began getting up and trying to digest what was taking place, realizing Kochava was gone – no longer seated at his side. The acrid smoke prevented him from acting immediately, but when he wanted to look for her he was blocked by the people panicking and the smoke.

Eyewitnesses later reported that Kochava could have been saved if she would have jumped from the bus like others did but she was too afraid of harming the fetus, opting not to take the chance.

While waiting outside to be taken to the hospital Yitzchak asked officials if they saw his wife, showing them a photo, but she was not among the wounded from what he could see. “When I got back to Israel I was told the prime minister wishes to console you”, and he said that is when he knew for certain that his wife was killed in the blast.

Yitzchak Kolengi HY”D and his wife Gilat had a baby girl four months earlier. They too were looking forward to the weekend vacation, traveling with their close friends Amir Menashe HY”D and his wife Natalie. Natalie was among the fortunate passengers, only injured lightly. Gilat and Natalie were among the wounded flown home to Israel earlier in the week. They are in Ichilov Hospital. The young mothers are now left with infants, Gilat with 4-month-old Noyah and Natalie with 10-month-old Rom.

An older brother, Dudi, spoke of his younger brother Yitzchak who was killed, explaining he was named after their Uncle Yitzchak who fell in the IDF in the line of duty.

For Yitzchak and his dear friend Menashe, they simply wanted to celebrate their 28th birthdays together so they decided on the trip to Burgas.

Eliezer Preiss and Maor Harush have known one another since childhood. Together with a third lifelong friend, Daniel Fahima, they decided to take the trip simply to spend some quality time together. Daniel is one of the Israelis being treated in Sofia, listed in serious condition. Their families have shut down at home, unwilling to speak with anyone as they try to digest the news that their children have been killed in the attack.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)