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Deaths of Three Classmates Leave Jerusalem High School in Shock

February 26, 1996

JERUSALEM (AP) _ At the entrance to Beit Hinuch High School, a memorial board with brass plaques bears the names of graduates killed in terrorist attacks or military action.

There are 67 names on the board. Now, there will be 70.

Three young graduates of the school _ 20-year-old Yonatan Barnea, 19-year-old Moshe Reuven, and 19-year-old Merav Nahum _ died in Sunday’s bomb blast on a Jerusalem city bus.

Twenty-five people were killed in that attack, and two more died a half-hour later when a bomb exploded in Ashkelon, on Israel’s Mediterranean coast. The Muslim militant group Hamas has claimed responsibility.

Today, three memorial candles burned on a table draped in black at the school, founded in 1939 in a wealthy neighborhood of Jerusalem. ``Beit Hinuch announces with great sorrow the falling of its graduates,″ a poster said.

``Merav, Yoni and Moshe were murdered by evil people whose intention was only to murder Jews and kill the peace,″ it said.

Handmade placards with newspaper photographs of the three covered the walls of the entrance hall.

``It affects everybody, and everybody is thinking about it,″ said 15-year-old Ariel Margalit, who was in Barnea’s Boy Scouts troop.

``I don’t think there is a single person in this school who didn’t know at least one of the fallen,″ Ariel said. ``The whole school is in mourning.″

Despite their youth, students at Beit Hinuch have been through this kind of shock before. One graduate was killed in a suicide bombing last year. Another was killed in an attack in Jerusalem’s cafe strip in October 1994. There have been other recent deaths in Lebanon, and in an army training accident.

Like most recent high school graduates in Israel, the three from Beit Hinuch who died Sunday had been called for compulsory army service.

Merav had been drafted just three months ago. Bible and history teacher Michael Porat remembered her chiefly for her kind heart.

``She was always happy, and willing to help anyone,″ Porat said.

Moshe, teachers said, was a quiet boy, and an excellent student. When he entered high school, he insisted on taking an advanced physics class, over the objections of his teachers and counselors.

But the student whom teachers remembered best was Yonatan _ always a leader, always doing something that drew attention.

``You couldn’t help noticing him,″ Porat said. ``He had something to say about everything. In many things, he was the linchpin of the class.″

In the last year of high school, Yonatan came up with the idea for a class play based on the classic camp movie, ``The Rocky Horror Picture Show.″ For a Purim holiday party, he got the class to dress up as characters from ``Crime and Punishment.″

For a class videotape, Yonatan shaved his head, leaving only the letters that stood for his class year.

``A month ago he came to visit me at school, to tell me he is going to do an instructor’s course in the army,″ history teacher Naomi Lavi, who taught him for three years, told Israel radio.

Yonatan’s father was Nahum Barnea, a well-known columnist for the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot.

Barnea went to the scene of the explosion before knowing his son was among the victims. When newspaper editors learned that his son had been identified, they got him away from the site on a pretext, then broke the news.

``I don’t know what to say to the students,″ Lavi said today.

``There was a child, and he’s gone now.″

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