While the families spoke about their loved ones and protested against the restaurant owners' indifference to their distress, people continued to flock to the restaurant for lunch.
Computer image of the Maxim monument (Photo: Ahiya Raved)
The restaurant owners closed the blinds of the windows facing the demonstration.
Ora Regev, mother of Nir who was killed in the attack, used a megaphone to address those entering the restaurant, wishing them bon appetite and mentioning that 21 people were killed on the premises two years ago.
She also informed them that the restaurant's owners "are doing everything they can to ignore the disaster and blur the victims' memories."
Since the attack, the families have negotiated with Haifa's City Hall, the Delek fuel company, whose gas station is adjacent to the restaurant, and the restaurant owners. A plan was organized to build a monument on the wall separating the restaurant from the gas station.
While Delek and City Hall have approved the plans, the restaurant owners have objected, claiming that a monument in remembrance of such a great disaster would harm the restaurant's chance of overcoming the attack.
The families reject the claim, saying that the real reason for the owners' objection is their desire to maintain the parking places next to the restaurant's entrance and their attempts to minimize the repercussions following the disaster.
Eli Regev of Nahariya, Nir's father, said that "the dimensions of our disaster cannot be minimized. Entire families were destroyed in this attack, three generations of one family, something that has not happened since the Holocaust."
"The families have done the best to avoid harming the restaurant's continued activity, but one cannot ignore the disaster that took place here," he added.
"It's a system"
Edna Bahat, whose son Zvi was killed in the attack, told Ynet that the restaurant owners are afraid the families will cause the place to close down.
"After the attack they renovated the restaurant and reopened it exactly on the same day my grandson, Hadar, who was seriously injured in the attack, underwent the most dangerous operation," she said.
"Despite the insensitivity, we did not respond. On the contrary, we were happy that the place was continuing to function in spite of the disaster. But now we understand that it's a system, they are ignoring the disaster as if it never happened," she added.
Lily Karkabi, mother of Mutanus who was also killed in the attack, said that over the past two years the families have had numerous conversations with the restaurant owners, but to no avail.
"The bottom line is that I want my child back, and that is something no one can give me," she said.
During the protest, the families confronted relatives of the restaurant owners who came out to talk to them, and temperamental arguments broke out. The families promised to continue their struggle, and four more demonstrations are planned over the next few days.
"The families want to build a wall"
Restaurant owner Tony Matar told Ynet he and his people do not oppose the building of a monument.
"The dispute between us and the families revolves around the size and the location. They want to build a wall, and this will lead to the closing of the restaurant. Whoever wants to come in will be forced to pass through the wall and to sit inside the monument," he said.
"We are going ahead with the building of a monument on the rockery opposite the restaurant's entrance," Matar added.
The Maxim restaurant was attacked on 4 October 2003, on the Saturday between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.
A female suicide bomber blew herself up inside the restaurant during lunchhour rush, killing 21 people and injuring over 50.