A group of Israel Defense Forces reservists and friends met Friday night in Tel Aviv only to tragically discover they were not safely away from the conflict in the territories.
Killed in the attack were:
- Yitzhak (Itzik) Buzaglo, 40, of Mishmar Hayarden
- Yael Aurbach, 28, of Rehovot
- Aryeh (Arik) Nagar, 37, of Kfar Sava
- Ronen Reubenov, 30, of Tel Aviv
The suicide bomber exploded at the entrance to the club, where Buzaglo and his wife, Linda, were standing. Buzaglo was killed immediately, while Linda is in serious condition in intensive care.
The couple, who lives in northern Israel, had never been there before, friends said. A few hours earlier they had celebrated the Sabbath with a family dinner.
"Mom says they were so happy," Yitzhak's sister, Iris, said. "It was such a pleasant dinner, and afterward they left their daughter and headed for Tel Aviv."
The couple has two children, nine-year-old Daniel and three-year-old Stav, who are both being cared for by relatives.
Buzaglo's sister said he finished reserve duty just a few days ago and returned home with a shaved head.
"They all agreed to shave their heads if they made it through reserve duty unharmed," she said. "He returned home unharmed, went out to celebrate and had his life cut short."
Company commander Eran Cohen says the group was like a family and would often meet outside of reserve duty.
"I didn't make it to the party because a family member was in hospital," he said. "When I found out about the bombing and saw my friends on television, I started making phone calls."
'We were all standing outside laughing, smiling'
Eitan Hait was among the reservists at the gathering. He suffered light leg wounds from shrapnel and was taken to Tel Hashomer hospital for treatment.
"It was a surprise party for our sergeant-major, Yaron Gravesky," he said. "We were all standing outside, laughing, smiling, when suddenly darkness sweep over me."
He said it took him a few minutes to realize where he was and what had happened.
"Once I regained my composure I started looking for my wife, Navah, who had been hurt by shrapnel in her left leg and hand," Hait said.
Members of the reservist company have served together for more than 10 years, he said, while adding that only 10 percent of Israelis who served in the army do reserve duty today.
Planned to get married in three weeks
Bombing victim Yael Aurbach had planned to marry boyfriend Ofer Gonen in three weeks. The two came to the surprise party to celebrate with Gonen's army friends.
Yael was killed at the site of the attack while Ofer was seriously wounded. He is still not aware that his fiance was killed in the attack, and doctors were considering whether to tell him.
'I didn't want Aryeh to go out'
Aryeh Nagar, who served as a paratrooper, was close with his fellow reservists and fulfilled his duty to the army, even in dangerous areas along the border with Lebanon, his father Yaakov said.
"When they called him, he went. They would call them for reserve duty in Mount Dov and he would arrive wherever he had to. He was always first. he was close to his friends in the battalion."
On Friday, Nagar also answered the call of friends who pleaded with his father to let him come.
"I don't decide for him if he can go, but because of the Sabbath, traffic accidents and what happens in the nightclubs, I didn't really want him to go," his father says. "Parents always worry. They told me that it wouldn't be a party without Aryeh."
A broken leg didn't stop Ronen from coming to reserve duty
"Before his last stint in the reserves, Ronen Reubenov broke his leg, but he still came, with a cast on his leg," his commander said of the 30-year-old Tel Aviv resident killed in the attack.
Ronen's sister, Orli Reuvni, told Ynetnews that he was a fearless man and a loving uncle.
"He wasn't afraid of anything. He was in the most dangerous and frightening places - Gaza and Lebanon - and always said that everything was fine.
"Ronen was very happy, with a smile on his face all the time. He would play with my children, and on Saturdays he would take them for bike rides, bowling, go-karting. They would have the greatest time."
"He gave all of himself to others and wanted everyone to be happy."