Despite end of IRA campaign, ‘my dad must still fight his own war’

Canary Wharf: the bomb aftermath
Canary Wharf: the bomb aftermath

A man who was left with severe injuries in the Canary Wharf bomb has been described as a “soldier” who will keep fighting on after the death of his wife and carer.

Zaoui Berezag, 75, has required the constant aid of his wife Gemma ever since being caught up in the attack in London just over 20 years ago, but she died on May 12 aged just 57.

Zaoui Berezag

Zaoui Berezag

Their daughter Rajaa has now spoken to the News Letter, saying that while her mother’s battle is now over, her father must continue to go through his own personal “war” every day.

Miss Berazag, who is 29 and lives close to her father’s home in east London so she can look after him, said her mother was “resting in peace with no struggle – she was brave”.

She added: “She is now gone.

“But we have to really look forward to the future because my dad is still here, is still strong, and is still fighting for every day. He’s my soldier now.

“He’s got brain damage, he’s [had] a leg amputation, and the man is still laughing...

“Yeah, he is a soldier. He’s showing us how to live – showing us how to be strong.”

She said he is “definitely” displaying more bravery than self-styled paramilitary soldiers, adding: “He’s going through his own war – but he wins, every day.

“Twenty years has gone. They said he’ll only have 10 years! I think he’s got another 20 coming.

“To be honest, as a family we’re doing a damn good job.”

Rajaa said while her father does exercise and tries to remain active, they are still in need of equipment to aid him.

The late Gemma Berezag had last been interviewed by the News Letter in February.

At that time, she had spoken of the difficulties she faced every day in looking after her husband Zaoui, and had said: “I am 57 but I feel like I am 80. This is still killing me, 20 years after the bomb.”

Daughter Rajaa – whose brother and sister were also injured in the Canary Wharf bomb – said it is thought that her mother may have died of a heart ailment.

She had been unwell for some time.

She is buried in England, but Rajaa and other family members are now heading to Morocco to mourn with Gemma’s relatives this weekend.

The Canary Wharf bomb exploded on February 9, 1996, bringing the IRA’s 1994 ceasefire to an end.

IRA man James McArdle was convicted of conspiracy to cause explosions and sentenced to 25 years, but was later granted a Royal Pardon (officially known as a Royal Prerogative of Mercy).

He was freed from jail in 2000.