Hapoel players escape shootings

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The Hapoel Tel-Aviv players Yossi Abuksis and Asi Domb have told of their terrifying ordeal, trapped in a city restaurant during a murderous terrorist attack.

Abuksis and Domb narrowly escaped unscathed when a Palestinian gunman opened fire, killing three people and wounding 31 at the Seafood Market Restaurant on Tuesday.

The footballers were there with a group of friends for a wedding-eve celebration. They included the Hapoel goalkeeper Shavit Elimelech and Maccabi Tel-Aviv's captain Avi Nimni along with the fiancé of the Maccabi Petach Tikva striker Liron Basis, Irit Rahamim, who was to be married the next day. Elimelech and Nimni left only moments before the attack.

"We sang and ate and had a good time but suddenly someone told us to lie down on the floor," Abuksis said yesterday.

"People ran to the toilets because someone said that a grenade have been thrown. I was in deep shock. I didn't see the terrorist, I just followed the orders that people shouted."

Irit Rahamim said she phoned her fiancé Basis to "say goodbye" as two people collapsed beside her. "I heard her crying and shouting and the shooting," said Basis. "Suddenly my mobile phone stopped working and I drove like a mad man to the restaurant."

Following the incident, Uefa ruled that the Uefa Cup quarter-final, first leg tie between Hapoel Tel-Aviv and Milan would not take place in Israel. The tie was originally scheduled for next Thursday at Hapoel's Bloomfield stadium, but Uefa yesterday announced that the match would be played at a neutral venue.