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Burger joint to open in memory of terror victim

A decade after a suicide bomber targeted Jerusalem’s Cafe Hillel, a friend of one of the victims realizes a dream

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

A general view of the scene of a suicide bombing on September 9, 2003 after a Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up at the entrance of Cafe Hillel coffee shop in Jerusalem. (photo credit: Flash 90)
A general view of the scene of a suicide bombing on September 9, 2003 after a Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up at the entrance of Cafe Hillel coffee shop in Jerusalem. (photo credit: Flash 90)

A close friend of a security guard who was killed when he tried to prevent a terrorist from carrying out a suicide bombing will open a hamburger restaurant in the same Jerusalem location as the cafe that was destroyed in the deadly attack.

Yuval Hoveri said that opening a restaurant was a dream he shared with Alon Mizrahi, who died along with six others in 2003 when a suicide bomber targeted the popular Cafe Hillel on Emek Refaim Street.

Hoveri told Maariv that he was devastated by the news of his friend’s death and left Israel to spend several years in Belgium, where he ran a bakery. When he finally returned to Israel a year and a half ago, he began to explore ways of fulfilling his old dream of opening a restaurant. When he heard of a chain of burger joints that was looking to open a franchise at the location of the former Cafe Hillel, Hoveri said, he jumped at the chance.

“When it became clear that it was Cafe Hillel, I decided to really live my dream,” Hoveri said. “There isn’t a greater sign than that.”

Hoveri and Mizrahi were childhood friends who often talked of opening a business together one day. After their army service, the two men took jobs as security guards, Hoveri protecting the construction work on the security barrier between Israel and the West Bank, and Mizrahi as a security guard at the restaurant. At the time, the Second Intifada was raging, and a spate of Palestinian suicide bombers targeting Israeli civilians drove cafes and restaurants to hire security guards as a last line of defense for their patrons.

On the night of September 11, 2003, a suicide bomber targeted Cafe Hillel during Mizrahi’s watch. As the terrorist tried to enter the packed eatery, Mizrahi threw himself at him. The bomber then detonated his explosive vest, killing Mizrahi and six others and injuring over 50.

Among the victims were Dr. David Applebaum, the head of the emergency room at Shaare Zedek Medical Center, and his daughter Nava, who was getting married the next day.

The new burger joint is scheduled to open next month. Hoveri said it will include a special memorial for his friend.

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