High school victims

March 06, 2003


1. The majority were children
2. Victims of the Haifa bus bombing
3. "Psychologists to help out in Haifa schools today" (Jerusalem Post, March 6, 2003)
4. "Seafood terrorist given three life sentences" (Ha'aretz, March 6, 2003)
5. "IDF thwarts about 15 terror attempts for every attack carried out" (Ha'aretz, March 6, 2003)


[Note by Tom Gross]

Usually I don't include details of terror attack victims on this list, but since a majority of those killed in Haifa yesterday were children and since so few international media outlets even hint at this (in contrast to the manner in which the ages of Palestinian victims of the conflict are regularly highlighted), I attach some details below, followed by a note on the Western media's failure to cover this, and two other articles.



Yuval Mendelevitch, 13, from Haifa. Yuval was speaking on the phone with his father while on the bus that blew up. He was an eighth-grader on his way home from school. Yuval becomes the sixth pupil at his high school to be killed in Palestinian terror attacks since September 2000.

Kmar Abu Khamed, 13, from Daliat al-Carmel. Her uncle described Kmar, who was Druze, as "a quiet girl with lots of Jewish friends who loved everyone."

Abigail Leitel, 14, from Haifa, was born in New Hampshire and was a Baptist. Her father, Philip, who studied at the Haifa Technion, said the family would remain in Israel and that they would bury their daughter Abigail here. The family had rushed to Haifa's Rambam hospital to look for a "wounded" daughter. Instead, they found Abigail's legs and identified the leg which still had an anklet bracelet attached to her leg. It had been a Christmas gift to her from a friend in America. Her 15-year-old brother said that she "loved nature."

Daniel Harush, 16, from Safed, had stayed behind in Haifa while the rest of his schoolmates had gone on a trip to Poland.

Assaf Zur, 17, from Haifa. Assaf's class were also in Poland on a Remembrance Trip to the Auschwitz death camp. He was killed on his way to the airport to welcome back his class from Poland.

Mitel Katav, 20, from Haifa. Mitel was speaking by cellphone to her sister Vered, when she was killed.

Tom Hershko, 16, and his father Motti Hershko, from Haifa were killed together. "Tom called me from the bus and said he was on line 37," his mother Ruth said. "He was supposed to be at school, but he said that he had something important to tell me. 'I'll tell you when I get back from Dad's house' he said. I also had a surprise for him I had arranged a fast connection to the internet. When I heard about the attack, I knew that they were dead. I asked that they save me a space in the cemetery next to them, as one day I want to be buried at their side. Though it hurts so much, I am glad they went together, because Motti will certainly continue to look after him."

Barry Oved, 21, from Rosh Pina. Barry was on his way to visit his grandparents in Haifa. His sister Limor said "He was modest and shy, and gave everything he had to all he did."

Smadar Firstatter. She was 17, from Haifa.

Tal Kirman. She was 17, from Haifa.

Marak Takash, 54, from Haifa.

Eliahu Lacham, 22, from Haifa.

[There are other young victims whose details have not yet been made available to the public since family members are still being informed.]


[Further note by Tom Gross]

Some of the most appalling coverage of yesterday's attack is found in the America media, such as that by the correspondent for America's National Public Radio (NPR), Linda Gradstein.

The New York Times today again prints its Mideast death toll chart, where it lines Israeli deaths next to the greater number of Palestinian deaths on a flow chart without mentioning that the vast majority of Israeli deaths are civilians whereas hundreds of the Palestinian deaths included in the NY Times' chart are suicide bombers and other Palestinians who killed or attempted to kill Israeli civilians on shooting sprees.

In Britain, The Independent doesn't find space to even hint at the ages of the Israeli victims in its report on the Haifa bomb but does find space to tell us that the Israeli government is "fiercely right-wing" and give readers the age of the Palestinian man who died yesterday (60). The only Israeli whose age is mentioned in The Guardian is a 51 year old. This contrasts with papers that are more interested in telling their readers what happened rather than distorting their Middle East coverage, such as The Times of London, which notes that "most of the victims of the attack on the bus had been teenage high school students."

Nor do papers mention that some of the victims, including the bus driver and a 13-year-girl killed, were Arab and Druze, or that 20 per cent of students at Haifa University are Arabs. To do so might contradict the campaign of certain newspapers to try and tell readers that Israel is an "apartheid" society.

Nor do most media outlets mention that at least one of the Haifa victims was American 14 year old schoolgirl Abigail Leitel, who was blond-haired and not Jewish in contrast to reports on the Philippines airport bomb the day before where most media mentioned that an American had been among the victims.


Psychologists to help out in Haifa schools today
The Jerusalem Post
March 6, 2003

The Education Ministry announced that it will send teams of psychologists and educational advisers to Haifa schools on Thursday, to help the students deal with Wednesday's bus bombing, in which students were among those wounded.

The Education Ministry said the teams will report back to a situation room after visiting schools and families of those hurt in the attack. The ministry will consult with experts at an emergency meeting on Thursday morning to determine how best to further help Haifa students after the attack.



Seafood terrorist given three life sentences
By Moshe Reinfeld
March 6, 2003

The Jerusalem District Court yesterday sentenced Murad Ajluni to three consecutive life terms and another 20 years in prison for driving the suicide attacker who carried out a shooting attack on the Seafood Market restaurant in Tel Aviv in February 2002, in which three Israelis were killed. Ajluni, 22, from the village of Akeb near Jerusalem, is a member of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the military wing of PA Chairman Yasser Arafat's Fatah organization. He admitted to driving Ibrahim Hasun, together with two other people, from Ramallah to Tel Aviv. Ajluni used his Israeli identity card to cross an IDF roadblock on the way.



IDF thwarts about 15 terror attempts for every attack carried out
By Amos Harel
March 6, 2003

There have been two important changes in the war on terror in the last few months. The first has to do with the Palestinian Authority's attempt for the first time in a long period to limit the firing of Qassam rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory. The second is related to statistics: While there are still suicide bomb attacks, the ratio between the attacks that are carried out and the attacks thwarted by Israeli security forces has completely changed.

The IDF manages to thwart about 15 attempted attacks for every one in which the terrorist achieves his goal. These phenomena, especially in light of the anticipated attack on Iraq, could be interpreted as initial indications that the IDF may be justified in its recent assessment that "the apex of conflict with the Palestinians is already behind us."

In the wake of the ongoing failure of the Cairo cease-fire talks among Palestinian groups, Palestinian security forces found themselves locked into the attempt to stop the terror attacks. Hamas withdrew from the talks while it was in a strong position (Egypt effectively recognized Hamas as equal to the PA in the negotiations), without having to concede a thing. Hamas representatives even rejected an Egyptian suggestion that the organizations commit in secret to prevent terror attacks. This resulted in damage to the PA's standing.

The IDF is operating simultaneously in the Gaza Strip, Nablus and the Jenin area. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz recently asked the IDF for a statistic comparison: the ratio between the number of terror attacks that were thwarted compared to those that took place in Israeli territory.

The statistics especially those since the wave of arrests in October 2002 are impressive. In October, security forces thwarted 15 terror attempts within the Green Line borders, compared to two terror attacks that were actually carried out (on a bus at the Bar Ilan junction on the Geha Highway and a bus at Karkur junction near Hadera). In November 2002, 19 attempts were thwarted and two attacks were carried out (in the Kfar Sava mall and on a bus in Jerusalem's Kiryat Menahem). In December 2002, 15 attempted attacks were thwarted and no attacks were actually carried out, and in January of this year, 15 attempts were thwarted and one attack was carried out (at Tel Aviv's old central bus station).

In contrast, in March 2002 prior to Operation Defensive Shield security forces thwarted eight terror attempts, while 17 attacks were carried out.

But the ratio of attacks thwarted to attacks carried out does not indicate the extent of Israeli losses. Thirty people were killed in January (23 of them in the Tel Aviv blast), seven were killed in December, 44 in November and 22 in October.

Israel already has a plan to exile PA Chairman Yasser Arafat, and is just waiting for the opportunity. After the attack on Iraq begins, the Americans will be less likely to force a veto; one more attack that results in a lot of casualties, and Arafat's out.

The chances of a major attack are pretty high, in part because the funds and directives for attacks have been flowing at a high speed recently, especially from Iran, but also from Syria and Iraq.

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.