1. 16 dead on a commuter bus
2. Cyanide in Netanya
3. "Dispatch from Israel: Cyanide Bombs" (By Ehud Yaari, May 21, 2002)
4. "Foreign ministry official: Al Jazeera blamed Kach for bus attack" (Ha'aretz, June 5, 2002)
5. "First bomb victim identified" (Jerusalem Post, June 5, 2002)
6. "Russia condemns bombing" (Jerusalem Post, & news agencies, June 5, 2002)
Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for today's bombing of a crowded rush-hour commuter bus in northern Israel, that killed at least 16 people and wounded scores. The killer came from Jenin, according to an announcement made by Islamic Jihad on Al Manar Television, operated by the Lebanese terror group Hizbullah.
Yet the Qatar-based Al Jazeera, the Arab world's leading television network, is claiming Jews are behind today's massacre. (See news update from Ha'aretz below.)
A rescue worker told Israel radio it was difficult to count the casualties because bodies were blown to pieces and burned. Virtually all of those on board were killed or wounded, according to rescue personnel at the scene. The gas tank of the bus exploded, engulfing the vehicle in flames while many passengers were trapped inside.
CYANIDE IN NETANYA
The headline in today's Ma'ariv newspaper in Israel is "Military Intelligence chief: Terrorists planned to scatter cyanide in Netanya."
Israeli military sources said the Palestinians are trying to use cyanide or nerve gas in suicide bombings. They said the first attempt to use cyanide gas against an Israeli target was in the March 27 suicide bombing in a hotel in Netanya in which 30 Israelis were killed. But the Palestinians were unable to install the cyanide in the belt used by the suicide attacker, the sources said. They said the work with cyanide has been taking place in at least one two laboratories in the West Bank, including An Najah University in Nablus.
The sources said Israeli military intelligence chief, Maj. Gen. Aharon Zeevi, warned a parliamentary committee on Tuesday that Palestinians were seeking to add cyanide to the explosive belts used in suicide attacks. The general said Palestinian insurgents are being aided by Hizbullah, Iran and Syria in their efforts. "We are talking about an intention," Brig. Gen. Ron Kitri, the army spokesman, said.
Here is an article on the same subject by Ehud Yaari, one of Israel's television's leading analysts (and also a subscriber to this email list), followed by various other items.
-- Tom Gross
Dispatch from Israel: Cyanide bombs
By Ehud Yaari
May 21, 2002
An interrogation of the members of the Hamas underground network based in the town of Tulkarm reveals that the terrorist organization was in the progress of turning their standard explosives into a mix of conventional and chemical charges. The leader of this ring Abass al-Sayed, arrested by the IDF during a raid on May 9th admitted that the plan was to insert cyanide lethal poison into the explosive belts worn by suicide bombers. Sayed was also one of the main contact links between Hamas in the West Bank and Hizbullah in Lebanon frequently interviewed by al-Manar Television.
Plans to switch to the introduction of chemical weapons are reported by several other detainees captured during the Defensive Shield operation. Different networks of both Fatah and Hamas were testing a variety of combinations ranging from regular rat poison to improvised versions of nerve gas.
So far, there were only two cases in which the nails and spikes routinely added by terrorists to explosive charges in order to increase the number of fatalities were indeed immersed in rat poison before a suicide bomber was sent off.
The Tulkarm Hamas ring led by Sayed was responsible for the Netanya Park Hotel Passover massacre on March 28th in which 29 Israelis were killed and 150 wounded. This same network also carried out the suicide bombing operation in Netanya’s market on March 1st, 2001 and the suicide attack on the Netanya Mall on h May 18t, 2001.
Most members of the ring were either killed or arrested by the Israeli Security Services during Defensive Shield operation. Those arrested included at least one person who volunteered to carry out the next suicide bombing attack.
Cyanide was to be obtained from the labs of Najjah University in Nablus, which has also provided the ring with some of its explosives.
AL JAZEERA BLAME JEWS FOR BUS ATTACK
Foreign ministry official: Al Jazeera blamed Kach for bus attack
June 5, 2002 update
The foreign ministry lodged a complaint with the Qatar-based Al Jazeera television network Wednesday after the ministry quoted Al Jazeera as having named the militant Jewish Kach organization as responsible for the car attack at the Megiddo Junction in northern Israel in which 16 people were killed.
The Islamic Jihad organization claimed responsibility for the attack.
Foreign Ministry Deputy Director General Gideon Meir told Israel Radio that ministry officials were amazed by Al Jazeera's report.
"We immediately complained at what was obviously wrong after the Islamic Jihad organization took responsibility following the attack," Meir said. "However, they (Al Jazeera) of course did not bother to apologize and say that that there was a mistake with their broadcast."
Asked if the foreign ministry was in contact with the Al Jazeera television network, Meir said "Of course. They have a correspondent in Israel and we are in regular contact with him."
Meir also said that he believes it is vital to maintain dialogue with television networks even during a period when Israel disapproves of what he called the networks' constant criticism of Israeli policy.
VIOLETTA HIZGUYEV, 20
First bomb victim identified
The Jerusalem Post
June 5, 2002
The IDF today identified one of 16 people killed in the suicide bombing at Megiddo junction as Violetta Hizguyev, 20, of Hadera. Hizguyev is to be buried tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. at Hadera's military cemetery, the IDF Spokesman said in a statement this afternoon. The bodies of 13 victims of the attack have been identified at the Abu Kabir forensic institute near Tel Aviv.
RUSSIA CONDEMNS BOMBING
Russia condemns bombing
The Jerusalem Post, and news agencies
June 5, 2002
Russia's Foreign Ministry strongly condemned Wednesday's suicide bombing and urged The Palestinian Authority to quickly reform their security services to prevent further attacks.
"Moscow resolutely condemns the new crime committed by Palestinian extremists and expresses its condolences to the families of its victims," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, who is on a visit to Moscow, issued a statement saying he was appalled by the latest attack Wednesday near the town of Megiddo in northern Israel.
"The brutal and willful killing of innocent lives can never be justified, no matter what the objective," Annan said in a statement released by the UN information office.
"Every effort must be made to bring justice to those responsible for this cruel act," said the statement, which was carried by the Interfax news agency.