On the 27th March in 2002, a young terrorist, dressed as a woman, entered the Park Hotel in Netanya, Israel, proceeded to walk into the crowded dining room where 250 guests were having their Seder meal and detonated a powerful bomb, hidden inside a suitcase. The sheer force instantly killed 28 people; injured 140 more, of which 20 were severely injured.
Of the injured, 2 perished later in hospital, bringing the total number of fatalities to 30. Some of the victims were survivors of the Holocaust; a number of victims were married couples; a father and daughter also lost their lives, amongst so many others. Of the 140 injured, 73 patients were treated at Laniado Hospital.
Two decades on from this tragedy, it is still hard for Lydia Lanxner (who was Head Nurse at Laniado Hospital at the time) to think about that night. The trauma and anxiety she feels for an Israeli under the threat of terrorism has resurfaced in recent days. Once again terror groups are responsible for fatalities. Lydia Lanxner (Head of Disaster Management, Laniado Hospital), worries, assesses the risks and prepares her unit: “Right now we are a little down in Israel. I don’t want to dig up my memory from 20 years ago since I’m living now with anxiety and maybe the fear that something will happen in Netanya, so my focus is on preparing the staff for what might eventually happen.”
At the time of the attack, the regional hospital had established a trauma centre in the wake of terror attacks and bombings across the country. The hospital became the epicentre for casualties and even benefitted from Hasidim volunteers, living in Kiryat Sans, who assisted the dedicated medical teams of Laniado Hospital, by carrying stretchers and donating blood.
Laniado Hospital would like to honour the memory of the victims of that tragic day and remember the hospital medical staff; paramedics; volunteers and trauma councillors for their dedication to the life saving work in the face of such an atrocity.
A Pesach appeal has been set-up to bring much needed life saving medical equipment and supplies to the ICU unit at Laniado. Help us to equip our medical teams in order to save lives, you can see what items are still outstanding for the trauma unit and donate at laniado.co.uk/equipus.
Lydia, continues to reflect on that devastating night and the impact it had on her and the hospital, “That night, my family and I had made reservations to be at the Park Hotel, which we cancelled because there was a sense of a lack of personal safety, secondary to the many consecutive attacks which perpetrated in the days that led to Passover. So, we cancelled and stayed home.
As we recited the kiddush at home and my beeper went on - clearly stating that there was an attack at the Park Hotel - you can imagine what went on around the table. I left for the hospital and as I started the triage on victims - I did not see them. I saw my husband, guests and kids - it took me a while to calm the anxiety I felt. Quickly ,thanks to my professional training, I started to function almost like a robot, not allowing myself to get emotional, only to do everything humanly possible to save as many lives as possible.
At 2am the last of the stabilised victims were evacuated to major Medical centres. Laniado at that time had a very limited ICU.As we cleaned up and restocked the ER, Rabbi Schwartz came with an immaculate stretcher covered with a white tablecloth, a seder plate and matzot and said "all you need to say is Pesach, Matzah and Maror. It will be as if you read the entire Haggadah. Chag Sameach. Go Home.
While we yet again face terrorism with cruel random attacks on the streets of main centres, killings in broad daylight, creating a sense of fear as well as lack of personal safety. The feelings of extreme sadness and powerlessness is the very purpose of terror. In times like these, the Israeli spirit and resilience awakes and somehow we strengthened one another”
Laniado Hospital was built as a life-affirming response to the devastation of the Holocaust. It is a testimony to the determination of one remarkable survivor, Rabbi Yekutiel Halberstam z’tl (The Klausenberger Rebbe). The Rebbe lost his wife, 11 children, and most of his devoted followers. With a superhuman effort he remained true to his faith. In what could have been his final moment, he made the promise that if he survived the war, he would build a hospital in Israel, dedicated to the Jewish tenets of compassion and love for all – regardless of race or religion.
Laniado UK supports the Laniado Hospital, Netanya, Israel, by providing financial assistance for capital expenditure including vital equipment, refurbishments and buildings expansion, to save lives.
Find out more and to Donate please visit laniado.co.uk/equipus.