Palestinians celebrate as 24 Israelis die in terror attacks

March 03, 2002

CONTENTS

1. Palestinians celebrate 24 Israeli dead, Arafat's al-Aqsa Brigades claim responsibility
2. Peace groups rally in Jerusalem deprives Police of vital manpower during terror attack
3. "Suicide bomber kills nine in Jerusalem" (Jerusalem Post, March 3, 2002)
4. "Ten die as suicide bomber strikes in Jerusalem crowd" (Sunday Telegraph, March 3, 2002)
5. "9 dead, 51 hurt in Jerusalem bombing" (Ha'aretz, March 3, 2002)
6. "Suicide Bomber Strikes Jerusalem Neighborhood" (AP, March 3, 2002)



[Note by Tom Gross]

PALESTINIANS CELEBRATE 24 ISRAELI DEAD, ARAFAT'S AL-AQSA BRIGADES CLAIM RESPONSIBILTY

This morning's terror attack brings to 24 the number of Israelis murdered by Palestinian terrorists so far this weekend.

Last night, thousands of Palestinians took to the streets in Bethleham and Ramallah in an impromptu celebration of the Jerusalem attack that left nine Israelis dead, including six children. In Ramallah, hundreds of Palestinians punched their fists into the air and shouted "God is Great."

The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah group, claimed responsibility for the attack.

The bomber blew himself up right beside a group of women waiting with their baby carriages for their husbands to leave the nearby synagogue following sundown prayers marking the end of the Sabbath.

The dead include:

Lidor Ilan, 12
His sister, Oriya Ilan, 1 year old
Ya'akov Avraham Eliyahu, 7 months old
His mother Sofia Yaarit Eliyahu, 23
Shiraz Nehmad, 7
Her brother Liran, 3
Their cousin Shauli, 15
Their parents Shlomo, 40, mother Gafnit, 32

"SCENES OF HORROR"

Four people remain in critical condition at Jerusalem's Hadassah-University Hospital at Ein Kerem, including an unconscious seven-year-old boy suffering from second-degree burns. Others among the 57 injured, many children, have lost limbs.

"We arrived at the site and saw scenes of horror: young children, old people, women, lying in the road without hands, without legs, blood everywhere and enormous destruction all about," said Eitan, a volunteer with Magen David Adom who helped evacuate the wounded. "Only some had the strength to scream or cry. The quiet was the thing I remember most... This was one of the worst attacks I can remember."

In addition to the dead and wounded, two unhurt babies were accidentally brought to Bikur Holim Hospital without their parents. For hours, hospital staff tried to locate the families, and finally discovered that the parents of one, a baby boy, had been injured and were in another hospital, Shaare Zedek. Other relatives were summoned to take him home. Later, the second baby's mother was located. She had also been in Shaare Zedek, accompanying her wounded son.

The pavement near the Mahane Yisrael centre, which hosts secular Jews seeking to experience the ultra-Orthodox Sabbath was spattered with body parts, and the white shirts of several men were flecked with blood.

Many people were seriously wounded. "I saw one man holding his intestines in his hands, and with his arm bleeding and torn up in two places," said Shlomo Beer, who ran out of his yeshiva (Jewish religious school) dormitory barely 50 yards from the explosion.

Passing cars ferried the wounded to hospital before the arrival of the ambulances.

PEACE GROUPS RALLY IN JERUSALEM DEPRIVES POLICE OF VITAL MANPOWER DURING TERROR ATTACK

The "Peace Coalition" of left-wing Israeli groups held a protest march in Jerusalem last night to the prime minister's residence, calling on the government to "get out of the territories and get back to ourselves."

The march started at Kikar Zion when participants, which included Knesset Speaker Avraham Burg, opposition leader Yossi Sarid, and Meretz MKs Zahava Gal-On and Mossy Raz received word of the terrorist attack in Jerusalem.

Police pleaded with the marchers to call off the rally because officers providing security for the march were needed to deal with the attack, a few hundred meters away, but after a minute's silence for the victims, the marchers insisted on continuing.

I attach four news reports about last night's terror attacks.

-- Tom Gross



FULL ARTICLES

"THE SMALL SIDE STREET WAS LITTERED WITH PIECES OF FLESH"

Suicide bomber kills nine in Jerusalem
By Etgar Lefkovits
The Jerusalem Post
March 3, 2002

At least nine people were killed, including two year-old infants and a 10-year-old boy, and 57 others were wounded last night, when a Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up in a crowd of people making their way home from synagogue in Jerusalem's Beit Yisrael neighborhood.

Four people were in critical condition last night at Jerusalem's Hadassah-University Hospital at Ein Kerem, including an unconscious seven-year-old boy suffering from second degree burns.

The Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades of Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement took responsibility for the attack. Hizbullah identified the bomber on Al Jazeera TV as Muhammad Darameh, 20, of the Dehaishe refugee camp near Bethlehem.

The blast, heard throughout downtown Jerusalem, occurred at 7:15 p.m. just outside the Mahane Yisrael Yeshiva guesthouse on Rehov Haim Ozer.

The explosion hurled passersby dozens of meters away, amid huge balls of fire. The small side street was littered with pieces of flesh and articles of clothing. A nearby parked car whose gas tank was apparently set off by the blast, leading to initial reports of a car-bombing lay completely gutted, as the smell of burned metal and human flesh pervaded the air in the blackened street.

A dazed middle-aged man, his shirt bloodied, lay on the ground mumbling, "I'm okay, I'm okay" on his cellphone.

"The scene was of a horror unimaginable: babies dead on the street, children burned and bleeding," said Aviva Nachmani, who was staying at the guesthouse celebrating her son's bar-mitzva. Her son escaped unharmed.

"I saw an empty baby carriage, with the infant lying dead on the street," said Shlomo, an eyewitness from the nearby Mir Yeshiva. A middle-aged man lay on the ground, his arm nearly severed from his body, he recalled. "He kept crying out: 'Please save my arm, save my arm."

Jerusalem police chief Cmrd. Mickey Levy said the location of the attack, near eastern Jerusalem, may have helped the terrorist or terrorists, especially considering the fact that Jerusalem's downtown and northern areas were teeming with police last night.

Levy said police had received several warnings throughout the day about impending attacks, but there were no concrete alerts about a suicide bombing or of an attack in Beit Yisrael, which adjoins Jerusalem's Mea She'arim neighborhood.

Police noted last night that they checked out a suspicious-looking man in Beit Yisrael at about 3 p.m., but let him go. At 6:15 police also followed up a call about a suspicious-looking man lurking near Jerusalem's Sacher Park across town, which also ended without arrest.

Police Insp.-Gen. Shlomo Aharonishsky said there were a large number of casualties because the attacker picked an especially busy hour, as the street was crowded with worshipers returning home from synagogue.

Shrilly Biton, 19, had just left the Mahane Yisrael Yeshiva's guest house, whose stone walls were stained with blood, heading to her car when the blast went off.

"I saw people flying in the air, my own brother" said Biton, lightly wounded in the attack, as she was wheeled away on a stretcher.

The site of the attack had been targeted before. Last February, a car bomb ripped through a side street in the neighborhood just meters away from last night's attack, but miraculously failed to cause any serious injury that time. Last night a sign affixed to the site last year could still be seen reading: "A great miracle happened here."

Upon hearing the news of the attack, hundreds of Palestinians at the Dehaishe refugee camp staged an impromptu celebration, chanting, "Revenge, revenge," and firing guns into the air at the entrance to the camp.

 

SUICIDE BOMBER STRIKES IN JERUSALEM CROWD

Ten die as suicide bomber strikes in Jerusalem crowd
The Sunday Telegraph
March 3, 2002

At least 10 people, including two infants, were killed last night and 57 injured, four of them seriously, when a suicide bomber threw himself into a crowd in an ultra-Orthodox neighbourhood of Jerusalem after Sabbath prayers.

The blast took place at about 7.15pm local time, when the streets were crowded with worshipers leaving the synagogues. The bomber had "got to the centre of the neighbourhood, approached a group of people [and detonated] a large explosive on his body," said Jerusalem police chief Mickey Levy.

Among the dead in the attack, which dealt another serious blow to international peace efforts, was a one-year-old girl and several other children. The police said that it was unclear exactly how many of the victims were children.

The suicide bomber was named as Mohammed Ahmed Alsha'ani, a member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, who was in his late teens and came from a refugee camp in Bethlehem.

Police thought that the blast in the Beit Israel neighbourhood was caused by a booby-trapped car but later revised that view, saying it was caused by a suicide bomber positioned near a car.

The bomb engulfed a car in a ball of flame and blew the tiles off roofs along the street. The explosion ripped through the narrow Haim Ozer Street as hundreds of worshippers were leaving synagogues.

People ran screaming from the scene of the blast, which could be heard more than a mile away. As police with sniffer dogs scoured the scene for evidence of explosives, men in black hats gazed down nervously from rooftops at the mangled and charred cars below.

"The street is always filled with people, including young children who wait for their fathers to return from the synagogue at the end of Sabbath," said Israel, an American orthodox student who was an eyewitness at the scene. "People were very terrified, running all over the place. There was mass hysteria."

The neighbourhood is home to the Mir Yeshiva, the largest religious school in the world, which is attended by 5,500 students, many from Britain.

David, a student at the school, moved from Newcastle upon Tyne to Jerusalem seven years ago. He came to search for his brother who lived 20 metres away from the blast scene.

"The IRA did not do things like this, bombing children in the street. The Palestinians achieve nothing by this, they are just making their lives worse. But we are religious Jews and although it is not pleasant we believe there is a message in this."

The blast covered a stone wall in blood at the Mahane Israel seminary, where up to 1,000 Jews gather every Saturday evening. Scraps of flesh and clothes were scattered on the streets and Jewish volunteers picked up the small pieces of human remains to ensure a proper Jewish burial.

The Israelis called the bombing "murder for murder's sake" and pinned the blame on Yasser Arafat, saying that he had given gunmen and bombers a green light to kill its citizens in the 17-month-old Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation.

Dpre Gold, an Israeli government spokesman, said: "This has nothing to do with warfare, this has nothing to do with national liberation, this has to do with the murder of innocent Jews. The state of Israel knows how to defend the people of Israel, and will do so."

The Palestinian Authority condemned the attack but said responsibility lay with what it called Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's "policy of aggression against the Palestinian people".

The United States called it a "terrorist outrage" and urged Arafat to do more to prevent such attacks.

Hamas officials said that this bombing was the inevitable result of the Israeli incursions into two Palestinian refugee camps over the past few days. More than 21 Palestinians have been killed in the camps since Thursday.

In Ramallah, news of the attack was announced as hundreds of Palestinians marched in a scheduled rally to denounce the Israeli incursions. Some marchers punched their fists into the air and shouted "God is Great."

An unidentified caller for the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a radical offshoot of the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah group, claimed responsibility for the attack. He said it was to avenge the deaths of 21 Palestinians in an offensive by Israeli forces in two refugee camps in the West Bank.

Shortly after the blast, a police spokesman said the body of an Israeli who was shot dead had been found on a road near the Jewish settlement of Qedar in the West Bank, east of Jerusalem. An army spokesman said the victim was "probably a policeman".

 

"BOMBER WAS BESIDE A GROUP OF WOMEN WITH BABY CARRIAGES"

9 dead, 51 hurt in Jerusalem bombing
Ha'aretz Staff and Agencies
March 3, 2002

Nine people, including four children, were killed and over 50 injured in a suicide bombing in Jerusalem last night.

The bomber blew himself up in the ultra-Orthodox Beit Yisrael neighborhood shortly after 7 P.M., just as worshipers were pouring into the streets following sundown prayers marking the end of the Sabbath. When he exploded, he was standing right beside a group of women waiting with their baby carriages for their husbands to leave the nearby synagogue.

The dead included a one-year-old girl and a 12-year-old boy. Of the injured, five are in serious condition, four of whom are still fighting for their lives. The remainder were lightly or moderately wounded.

The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the military wing of Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, took responsibility for the attack last night. The group identified the bomber as Mohammed al-Dararmeh, 19, of the Dehaishe refugee camp near Bethlehem, and said the attack was to avenge "the continued Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people," of which the most recent were the operations in the Nablus and Jenin refugee camps.

Upon hearing the news, hundreds of Palestinians staged an impromptu celebration, chanting, "revenge, revenge," and firing guns into the air at the entrance to Dehaishe; hundreds more took to the streets of Ramallah for their own celebration.

The PA cabinet condemned the attack, but said that Israel was to blame for the escalation of the violence.

But Marwan Barghouti, one of the leaders of the Fatah movement in the West Bank, pledged that his organization would spill much more Israeli blood in the coming weeks. "The resistance forces will continue to strike at the Zionist enemy," he said in an interview with Hezbollah's Al-Manar television station in Lebanon. "And I am certain that the force of these strikes will even increase."

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon telephoned Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer to discuss Israel's response to the attack. Government sources said that Israel holds Arafat personally responsible, as the Al-Aqsa Brigades are directly subordinate to him.

The thunderous blast shook downtown Jerusalem and sent flames leaping from a car that caught fire. Blood covered a stone wall at the nearby Mahane Israel seminary, where up to 1,000 Jews gather every Saturday evening.

"I heard an explosion, and I went down and saw a baby carriage with a dead baby beside it and other dead people," said Shlomi, who was in Mahane Israel when the bomb exploded.

"We arrived at the site and saw scenes of horror: young children, old people, women, lying in the road without hands, without legs, blood everywhere and enormous destruction all about," said Eitan, a volunteer with Magen David Adom who helped evacuate the wounded. "Only some had the strength to scream or cry. The quiet was the thing I remember most... This was one of the worst attacks I can remember."

Another witness who had been staying at the Mahane Israel guesthouse said she and everyone else in her family had been lightly hurt when the bomber blew himself up. "I was speaking with everyone and when I turned around I saw people flying in the air. My brother fell onto me. I didn't know if my brother was wounded or the blood of other wounded people was on him," she said. "All I felt was pain."

In addition to the dead and wounded, two unhurt babies were accidentally brought to Bikur Holim Hospital without their parents. For hours, hospital staff tried to locate the families, and finally discovered that the parents of one, a baby boy, had been injured and were in another hospital, Shaare Zedek. Other relatives were summoned to take him home. Later, the second baby's mother was located. She had also been in Shaare Zedek, accompanying her wounded son.

The explosion was a particularly tragic conclusion to what should have been a joyous occasion for the Hazan family of Moshav Bnei Ayish near Ashdod. The family had come to Jerusalem to celebrate the bar mitzvah of their son Naveh at Mahane Israel, and the bomber blew himself up outside the building just as the family and guests were leaving. Several family members and friends were wounded.

"This is an event I had been looking forward to so much," said Aviva Nahmani, Naveh's mother. "Everything was so beautiful. But I didn't expect it to end like this."

The tragedy was even worse for the Hajaby family, which was also celebrating their son's bar mitzvah at Mahane Israel: Some of the dead were members of this family.

Yesterday's bombing occurred only meters from where a car bomb miraculously exploded a year ago without causing any injuries. On a nearby wall, local residents' reaction to that event was still visible: a large sign that read "a great miracle happened here."

The United States issued a sharp denunciation of the attack last night.

"The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms this terrorist outrage," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said. "Such murder of innocent citizens cannot be justified and can only harm the interests and aspirations of the Palestinian people in progress toward a better future... We call upon Chairman Arafat and the Palestinian Authority to do everything possible to confront and stop the terrorists responsible for these criminal acts."

Interior Minister and Shas leader Eli Yishai said that Israel must respond harshly to the attack, using measures it has not used in the past.

Police initially thought the bomber had infiltrated the neighborhood by dressing in traditional Haredi garb a suspicion strengthened by the fact that two neighborhood residents had earlier alerted them to a suspicious character who, they said, looked like an Arab despite his Haredi dress and was seen getting out of a car and lighting a cigarette, both of which are forbidden on Shabbat by Jewish law. However, police said this theory later proved false, and denied residents' charges that they had ignored the earlier alert.

Jerusalem Police Chief Mickey Levy said the police had received no intelligence warnings of a bomber planning to blow himself up in the northern Jerusalem neighborhood. Nevertheless, police had been patrolling throughout the area all day, and had stopped several suspects.

 


SUICIDE BOMBER STRIKES JERUSALEM NEIGHBOURHOOD

Suicide bomber strikes Jerusalem neighborhood
Blast kills at least nine people, wounds more than 30
By Greg Myre
The Associated Press
March 3, 2002

A Palestinian suicide bomber detonated a powerful explosive Saturday among ultra-Orthodox Jewish worshippers as they poured into the streets following sundown prayers at the end of the Sabbath. At least nine people, including several children, were killed, and more than 30 wounded.

Hours later, Israeli helicopters fired four missiles at Palestinian Authority headquarters in Bethlehem early Sunday, Palestinians said. The Israeli military had no immediate comment.

The thunderous blast from the suicide bombing shook downtown Jerusalem and sent flames leaping into the air from a car that caught fire. Blood splattered the stone wall in front of the Mahane Israel seminary, where up to 1,000 Jews meet every Saturday evening.

The bomber entered the Mea Shearim neighborhood in west Jerusalem, "approached a group of people (and detonated) a large explosive on his body," said Jerusalem police chief Mickey Levy.

Besides the bomber, nine people were killed, including a 1-year-old child and several other children, police said.

"This has nothing to do with warfare, this has nothing to do with national liberation, this has to do with the murder of innocent Jews," said government spokesman Dore Gold. "The state of Israel knows how to defend the people of Israel, and will do so."

Palestinian militants had vowed to attack after Israel's military stormed into two West Bank refugee camps over the past three days. At least 23 Palestinians including gunmen, policemen and civilians have been killed in the camps since Thursday, and Israeli troops were continuing to search for militants and weapons in the Balata refugee camp on the edge of Nablus in the West Bank.

Palestinian security sources said the Jerusalem bomber was Mohammed Daragmeh, 20, a member of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, which is part of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement. They said he came from the Dheisheh refugee camp near Bethlehem.

At the entrance to Dheisheh camp, hundreds of Palestinians staged an impromptu celebration, chanting, "revenge, revenge," and firing guns into the air.

In Israel's strike in Bethlehem, apparently in retaliation, helicopters targeted the building serving Force 17, an elite unit of the Palestinian security forces. The missiles set the building on fire, and ambulances raced to the scene, witnesses said. The building had been evacuated in expectation of a retaliatory strike, Palestinian security officials said.

Arafat's administration denounced the suicide bombing in a statement. But it also criticized Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for the "crimes against Palestinian civilians" in the refugee camps and called his government "responsible for the deterioration in the region, and any coming deterioration."

Shortly after the bombing, an Israeli policeman on a motorcycle was shot dead in a Jewish settlement just outside Jerusalem, police said. The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade also claimed responsibility for that killing.

With sirens wailing, ambulances and police cars rushed to Mea Shearim, which lies just across a main road from Palestinian neighborhoods in east Jerusalem. The blast went off shortly after sundown, the end of the Sabbath, which begins at sundown Friday.

"I came right out (on the street) and saw a car on fire, the building next to it was also on fire," said one witness, Yitzhak Weinberger, 22.

Scraps of flesh and clothes were scattered on the streets. Jewish volunteers picked up the small pieces of human remains to ensure a proper Jewish burial.

The neighborhood's ultra-Orthodox Jews, in blacks coats and hats, packed the street and looked on from the balconies of the old stone homes lining the road. Some chanted, "no Arabs, no terror attacks."

Meanwhile, Israel's army said it captured suspected Palestinian militants and uncovered rockets and explosives during three days of house-to-house searches in the densely packed Balata refugee camp, next to Nablus, in the West Bank, the army said Saturday.

Israeli Col. Aviv Kochavi, the commander of the paratroopers carrying out the operation, said troops seized seven Qassam rockets that were ready, or nearly ready for launch, and seven explosive belts, the kind often used by suicide bombers.

"I hope we've foiled seven suicide bombings with this discovery," Kochavi told reporters Saturday afternoon, several hours before the attack in Jerusalem.

Israeli soldiers pulled out of a second refugee camp Saturday, this one on the outskirts of Jenin, about 20 miles from Nablus.

Palestinian Information Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo said the Israeli actions were "aimed at demolishing and destroying the two camps and making their residents refugees again." He ruled out any meetings in the near future between Israeli and Palestinian security officials, who held two acrimonious and fruitless sessions this past week.

While Palestinians put their dead at 23 in the two camps since Thursday, the Israeli army said about 30 Palestinian gunmen have been killed and some 200 wounded. It did not mention Palestinian civilian casualties. Palestinians say most militants managed to escape.

Israeli officials said they undertook the action because the camps had become strongholds for militants.

The raids mark the first time the army has sent ground troops into refugee camps during the 17 months of Mideast fighting. Israel had been reluctant to enter the camps, where it is difficult or impossible for its tanks and other armored vehicles to move in the narrow, congested streets.

In Nablus, members of Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade said they executed a Palestinian after he allegedly confessed to helping the Israeli military track down militants.

In the northern Gaza Strip, a 27-year-old Palestinian attempting to plant a bomb was shot and killed by Israeli forces early Saturday. The Israeli army and the militant Islamic group Hamas both said afterward that the man was trying to attack Israelis.


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