The five Israelis killed in Wednesday’s terror attack in Bulgaria arrived in Israel late Thursday night, as their plane touched down at Ben-Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv shortly after 12:30 a.m.
Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov, presiding over an official ceremony for the victims, whose relatives were present for their arrival, declared the victims’ “only crime” was “being Israel, being Jewish.”
“We stand before these five caskets,” he said, “and our heart is broken.”
The victims were named on Thursday evening as Amir Menashe, 27; Itzik Kolengi, 27; Maor Harush, 26; Elior Priess, 26; and Kochava Shriki, 42.
Channel 2 reported that Menashe and Kolengi were childhood friends who traveled to Bulgaria with their wives, who were both injured in the attack. The Kolengis had celebrated the birth of their first daughter four months ago and planned a long weekend away without the child, who was left in the care of her grandparents.
Galit Kolengi was seriously injured in the explosion that killed her husband and was to be flown back to Israel on Thursday night. Natalie Menashe was lightly injured in the blast.
Harush and Priess were both from Acre. When news of the attack reached the Harush home, family members hoped for the best, but their hopes were dashed when they were asked by authorities to provide DNA samples.
In the hours following the explosion Itzik Shriki, who was lightly injured in the attack, searched for his wife until the terrible truth of her fate became clear. She was taken to a hospital in Sofia, without him being told. Shriki will be laid to rest at a cemetery in Rishon Lezion at 12.30 on Friday.
According to Channel 2, the couple had recently succeeded in becoming expectant parents after several years of frustrated attempts.
“Two of them have gone, she and her baby,” wailed Yael Mored, Shriki’s sister. “They just went for three days of holiday and now she will come back in a coffin.”
Itzik Kolengi was to be buried in Petah Tikva’s Segula cemetery on Friday at 10:30. Amir Menashe was to be buried in the same cemetery an hour later.