TEL AVIV – Israeli victims gave harrowing accounts of Saturday’s Istanbul terror attack that killed four people, including three Israelis, and wounded another 36.
“We were a group of Israelis on a tour; he just exploded on us,” Naama Peled, who was on a culinary trip to Turkey with 13 others when the attack occurred, told the Hebrew-language Walla website. “I am now going into the operating theater,” she said. “I was the most lightly wounded [of the Israelis],” she added.
“We were sitting in a restaurant and then the bomber came in and there was an explosion,” Peled told the Ynet news website.
“I saw the terrorist with my own eyes. It is hard for me to talk. I don’t know what happened to everyone and there are a lot of friends that I cannot find,” she said.
Another Israeli victim, who was also slightly wounded in the attack, spoke to Ma’ariv shortly after the bombing.
“The explosion was horrible and the next second I found myself lying on the ground with objects flying all around me,” the eyewitness, who could not reveal their name, said.
CCTV footage shows the moment of the blast with passersby dashing for cover.
Victims in the blast were asked by Turkish security forces to comply with instructions from the Israeli authorities not to disclose information about the terror attack until they finished conducting their investigation.
“It was one loud explosion,” said Muhammed Fatur, a Syrian who works at a butcher shop near the site of the explosion. “Police came to the scene and sealed off the area.”
Two planes from Israel’s Magen David Adom rescue service landed at Ben-Gurion International Airport early on Sunday carrying five Israelis wounded in the terror attack.
The three Israelis murdered in the attack were named as Avraham Goldman, 69, from Herzliya; Yonatan Suher, 40, from Tel Aviv; and Simcha Damri, 60, from Dimona. Damri’s husband, Avi, was moderately wounded in the attack.
Suher was celebrating his birthday in the Turkish capital with his wife, Inbal, who had surgery on Saturday night in Turkey. The couple have two children. A friend of Suher’s said he was shocked at the news of his death.
“He was a talented young man who changed the face of society and made it better,” the friend said. “Yoni always had a smile on his face, he always made things seem much easier and better.”
Another five wounded Israelis, four women in serious condition and a man in moderate condition, remained in Istanbul hospitals under Magen David Adom medical supervision.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, though Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the Islamic State terror group is likely behind it. IS has been fingered as responsible for several attacks in Turkey in recent months, including a suicide bombing near the Blue Mosque in January in which 12 German tourists were killed.