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Friday, January 20, 2006

'My miracle escape'

This is what it's like to be up close and personal with a suicide bomber R"L - and to live to tell about it:

"The bomber was one meter away from me, inside my store. It was a miracle - there is a creator of this world," said Itzik Sharon, one of the owners of the shwarma stand at the old central bus station in Tel Aviv, where a suicide bomber wounded 27 on Thursday afternoon.

"A guy walked in holding nothing," said Sharon, 36, minutes before being released from Ichilov Hospital just two hours after the attack. "He looked suspicious, holding his hands in his pockets. I turned my head the other way, and within seconds I heard a blast."

According to Sharon, there were between 15 and 20 people at the stand when the attack occurred. After making sure his twin brother was not hurt, Sharon said he looked for a way out. The first phone call he made was to his wife.

"Thank God, we are all healthy, and we are going to continue," he said. "Leaving the hospital is the best possible feeling."

"What saved me was the Book of Psalms I've had in my bag for the past two weeks," said Ben Friedman, 29, a construction worker who said he stopped at the shwarma stand regularly on his way home from work.

Minutes before the attack, Friedman, who said he was in the process of becoming religious, was busy thinking about the new apartment he was supposed to move into on Thursday evening.

"I was looking for a place to put down my pita when I heard a loud explosion and the place went dark," Friedman said. "There was a smell of death in the air, and then I saw a mangled body lying on the floor."

After remaining frozen for two minutes, Friedman said, he crawled toward the kitchen. Having narrowly escaped a suicide attack last year at the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv minutes before it took place, Friedman said that he hoped this time he suffered nothing more than a light back wound.

"I hope it's just my back, not my soul," he said, adding that images from the attack kept flashing back before his eyes.

"I don't know if I'll go back there," he said. "Then again, when He is looking for you, He can find you anywhere."


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