Eighteen years after her mother was killed shielding her from a Palestinian suicide bomber, Shani Winter this month proudly joined the Israel Defense Forces.
Touchingly, Winter was joined at her induction by Ziona Bushri, the policewoman who famously carried the then-six-month-old Winter away from the carnage of the Apropo Cafe bombing in Tel Aviv on March 21, 1997.
Winter’s mother, Anat Winter-Rosen, and her friend, Yael Gilad, were killed and another 48 people were wounded by the suicide bomber. In the aftermath, Bushri was photographed carrying a crying and blood-stained Winter from the scene. It was a picture that made the front pages of every major newspaper, and touched the heart of the nation.
Bushri has reportedly remained in close contact with Winter and her family ever since.
“Memories of this awful bombing accompany me every day,” the now-senior staff sergeant major told Israel’s Ynet news portal. “I will never forget the moment I picked Shani up and ran to search for her family. And here she is, the baby we all remember has grown up and is joining the IDF.”
Understandably, it was a bitter-sweet day for Shani. “I’m the baby from the Café Apropo bombing, and I’ll carry that for the rest of my life,” she said. “I’m jealous of my friends who have mothers. I don’t know what it’s like to have a mother. On the other hand, I find comfort in the fact my mother saved me. That I was a part of her, and she protected me.”
In the comments following the Ynet article, one reader rightly stated that “THIS is the spirit and courage of Israel,” and added that so long as that is true, “terror will never, ever win.”