The 2001 Dolphinarium Massacre in Tel Aviv

By Gideon

Twenty-one teenagers were killed and 132 were wounded on June 1st, 2001, in what was one of the most gruesome terrorist attacks in the nation’s history after suicide bomber Said Khutari made his way into the heart of a crowd of party-goers waiting in line outside the club, before blowing himself up. 16 of the victims were teenagers. The majority of them were teenage girls, whose families had recently immigrated from the former Soviet Union.Both the Islamic Jihad and a group called Hezbollah-Palestine claimed responsibility for the attack, and it was also reported that the terrorist had links to Hamas.

The suicide bomber was standing in line on a Friday night in front of the Dolphinarium, when the area was packed with youngsters (most of them from Russian-speaking families) waiting for admission. Survivors of the attack later described how the young Palestinian bomber appeared to taunt his victims before the explosion, wandering among them dressed in a disguise that led his victims to mistake him for an Orthodox Jew from Asia. Before detonating his bomb, he banged a drum packed with explosives and ball-bearings, while taunting his victims in Hebrew with the words “Something’s going to happen”. At 23:27, he detonated his explosive device. Witnesses claimed that body parts lay all over the area, and that bodies were piled one above another on the sidewalk before being collected. Many civilians in the vicinity of the bombing rushed to assist emergency services. The suicide bombing followed a failed attack attempt on the same target five months earlier.

After the attack many in the Israeli public demanded a harsh military retaliation; nevertheless, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon decided to not take any immediate retaliatory actions. US and other governments applied heavy diplomatic pressure on Israel to refrain from action. Nevertheless, the attack was later on noted as one of the reasons cited by the Israeli government for building the Israeli West Bank barrier.

In the video below, Susana Bobis sings “If There’s Heaven in a 2011 memorial ceremony for the Dolphinarium victims


Killed in the Attack

  • Maria Tagiltseva, age 14, of Netanya
  • Raisa Nimrovsky, age 15, of Netanya
  • Ana Kazachkova, age 15, of Holon
  • Katherine Kastaniyada-Talkir, age 15, of Ramat Gan
  • Irina Nepomnyashchi, age 16, of Bat Yam
  • Mariana Medvedenko, age 16, of Tel-Aviv
  • Yulia Nelimov, age 16, of Tel Aviv
  • Liana Saakyan, age 16, of Ramat Gan
  • Marina Berkovizki, age 17, of Tel Aviv
  • Simona Rodin, age 18, of Holon
  • Aleksei Lupalu, age 16, of Ukraine
  • Yelena Nelimov, age 18, of Tel Aviv
  • Irena Usdachi, age 18, of Holon
  • Ilya Gutman, age 19, of Bat Yam
  • Roman Dezanshvili, age 21, of Bat Yam
  • Pvt. Diez (Dani) Normanov, age 21, of Tel Aviv
  • Ori Shahar, age 32, of Ramat Gan
  • Yael-Yulia Sklianik, age 15, of Holon– died of her injuries on 2 June 2001
  • Sergei Panchenko, age 20, Ukraine – died of his injuries on 2 June 2001
  • Jan Bloom, age 25, of Ramat Gan – died of his injuries on 3 June 2001
  • Yevgeniya Dorfman, age 15, of Bat-Yam– died of her injuries on 19 June 2001


The Dolphinarium Memorial