New York Twin Towers survivor injured in Jerusalem blast

January 27, 2002

Mark Sokolow has now escaped death twice in four months – first in the September 11th terror attacks in New York and then yesterday in Jerusalem. This was the second deadly bombing on Jerusalem’s Jaffa Street in less than one week. The final article is about the death of Pinhas Tokatli, 81, an amateur artist on his way to buy paints when he was killed.

-- Tom Gross


American injured by suicide bomb also survived September 11 attack
By Peter Beaumont and agencies in Jerusalem
The Guardian
January 28, 2002

An American who survived the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York was among those injured by yesterday's suicide bomb attack in West Jerusalem's Jaffa Street.

Bandaged and bloody, Mark Sokolow, 43, [whose office was located on the 37th floor of the WTC's southern tower,] described from his Israeli hospital bed how he had escaped death twice in four months.

"I heard like a loud 'whoosh' noise and then like a bang. And I kind of saw things flying around a little bit and then I realised I was able to get up and walk around," he said.

Mr Sokolow was on holiday in Israel with his family. [A hospital spokesman said that Sokolov was suffering from a injury to his eye socket, but “we believe we will be able to save the eye."]

"I am sure there are many parallels that I'll be able to figure out... I don't know. I was obviously a lot luckier last time. This one involved my whole family," he said.

Mr Sokolow's wife and two daughters also suffered injuries in the blast. Mr Sokolow said that he and his daughter Lauren had cuts and bruises, while his wife, Rina, was getting a skin graft to her leg and his other daughter, Jamie, 12, was undergoing eye surgery.

Mr Sokolow, from Long Island, New York, recalled running down flights of stairs in the World Trade Centre on September 11, when suicide hijackers flew commercial aircraft into the landmark New York buildings, killing nearly 3,000 people.

"I was in the second tower and we evacuated after somebody in my office saw that the first tower was on fire," he said.

"We walked downstairs from the 38th floor... Our building got hit [when] we were at the lobby level," he said, speaking from his hospital bed, his head bandaged and flecked with blood.

When the blast occurred yesterday, Mr Sokolow and his family were waiting at a shoe shop on Jaffa Street to pick up a package from a cousin to take back to New York.

"As a matter of fact we changed our plans after September 11... We were meant to go on vacation elsewhere. We changed our plans to bring our whole family here," said Mr Sokolow, who described himself as a religious Jew.

"We just felt that it was more important that we do this and come here and spend time in Israel as opposed to going elsewhere."



From News agencies:

Sunday's bomb, which killed two and injured 150, was the second deadly attack in Jerusalem’s Jaffa Street in less than one week. The thunderous blast was heard as far away as the Jerusalem suburb of Beit Zayit. Its force hurled bleeding and dazed passersby into the air.

It was the first time a woman suicide bomber – a student from the University in Nablus – has carried out an attack in Israel. During the period of the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon, the Iranian-backed Hizbullah used women suicide bombers who had allegedly dishonoured their families and who killed themselves to clear the stain, a practice later banned by Islamic authorities.

105 victims of Sunday's attack remained in Jerusalem hospitals last night. Two of the injured were listed in very serious condition.



Victim of blast died pursuing passion for painting
By Itim, Israeli news agency
January 28, 2005

Pinhas Tokatli, 81, killed in yesterday's Jerusalem suicide bombing, will be buried at 3 p.m. today at the Har Hamenuhot Cemetery.

Tokatli, born in the capital and a fifth generation Israeli, served in the Hagana, and worked in advertising. He died only a short distance from the spot on Jaffa Road where, in the 1940s, British soldiers beat him up, damaging his vision.

After retiring, he became interested in cycling and was one of the founders of the Jerusalem cycling club.

His son Gilad, 35, said his father went riding on his bicycle daily and had become an amateur painter. He had been coming home from a painting class via the downtown area, where he was going to buy some paints, when he was killed.

Police said Tokatli had been standing very close to the woman terrorist when she blew herself up.

Gilad described his father as a gentle man, who refused to grow old.

"My father hated the bus and used to walk or ride his bike," he said. The bicycle was left outside the family's home in the Kiryat Hayovel section, which is filled with dozens of Tokatli's paintings, many of his beloved Jerusalem.

Family members said Tokatli's grandchildren liked to paint with him.

He is survived by his wife Hanna, two sons, two daughters, and 13 grandchildren.

ITIM adds:

There was further blow for Israel as a crowd of 70 people broke into a Palestinian jail in Bethlehem and freed six militants, including one man on Israel's "most wanted" list. Raanan Gissin, an Israeli government spokesman, blamed the Palestinian Authority for the jail break.

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.