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May 13, 2002
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Restaurant reopens after suicide bombing 6 weeks ago

I saw last night on Israeli TV that the Matza restaurant in Haifa reopened today. On 3/31/02, a Palestinian homicide/suicide bomber killed 15 Israeli civilians, both Jews and Arabs after entering the restaurant and blowing himself up.

The Matza restaurant is managed by a family of Israeli Arabs, in a neighborhood where Jews, Muslims and Christians say they have gotten along just fine.

"It is a very emotional time for me. I am crying, but I am also happy that we are back on our feet again," Ali Adawi, 57, the owner of the restaurant, said. "

I copy the announcement of the restaurant reopening and the original article on the Palestinian terrorist attack below.

HAIFA RESTAURANT REOPENS AFTER SUICIDE BOMBING 6 WEEKS AGO

The Matza restaurant in Haifa has officially reopened following the
suicide bombing in which 15 were killed and dozens wounded six weeks ago,
THE JERUSALEM POST reported.

"It is a very emotional time for me. I am crying, but I am also happy that
we are back on our feet again," Ali Adawi, 57, the owner of the restaurant,
said. "What happened here will remain with me all my life. I'm still not
sleeping properly and the images of the atrocity are going to be in my head
for a long time to come."

His relative Soheil Adawi, 31, who had a three year-old child and whose wife is in her eighth month of pregnancy, was one of those killed. Dov Chernobroda, a member of the board of directors of the Beit Hagefen Arab-Jewish center and a long-time activist in promoting Jewish-Arab coexistence, was also killed in the attack.

Adawi had gone into the kitchen to help with an order when the suicide
bomber entered and blew himself up. He was taken to a nearby hospital to be
treated for shock. He still has some difficulty hearing, but stresses that
his injuries, for the most part, remain emotional and psychological.

"You see something like this on the television, but it does not have in any
way, shape, or form the same impact as when it happens to you personally. It
is something you can never forget," he said. "The encouragement we have
received has given me a great deal of encouragement, but my main hope and
wish for the future is that something like this will never, ever happen
again - not here or anywhere else in the country," Adawi added.
--------------------------------------------------------------
Here's the original article on the Palestinian terrorist attack:

Palestinian Kills 15 at Restaurant
Fifth Suicide Bombing in 5 Days Claims Jews and Arabs in Haifa
http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&node=&contentId=A44412-2002Mar31¬Found=true

By Craig Whitlock
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, April 1, 2002; Page A01

HAIFA, Israel, March 31 -- Palestinian suicide bombers struck Israeli civilian targets today with renewed force, killing 15 people -- both Jews and Israeli Arabs -- at a restaurant in this northern port city and wounding several others in a separate attack on a Jewish settlement in the West Bank.

Palestinian assailants have carried out five bombings in the past five days, a period coinciding with the Jewish holiday of Passover. All told, more than 40 Israeli civilians have died and more than 120 have been wounded since Wednesday. Since Friday, at least 15 Palestinians have been killed in conflict with Israeli troops in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Following the two attacks, and after a meeting of his security cabinet, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon appeared on national television tonight to again declare Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader, an enemy and to warn Israelis to prepare for a long struggle.

"Citizens of Israel: The state of Israel is at war, a war against terror," Sharon said. "We must fight this terrorism, in an uncompromising war to uproot these savages, to dismantle their infrastructure, because there is no compromise with terrorists." Sharon added that Arafat "activated, coordinated and directed" the campaign against Israel and is "the enemy of the free world."

The Palestinians responded swiftly. "The world knows what hand Sharon has extended," said Yasser Abed Rabbo, the Palestinian information minister. "It is the hand that carries the tools of killing and it is the hand soaked with the blood of the people in the region, including that of the Palestinian people."

President Bush refrained from commenting on the latest attacks, but the White House said they would not deter U.S. envoy Anthony C. Zinni from continuing to seek a cease-fire. Several senators called on Bush to get more engaged in trying to dampen the violence.

Pope John Paul II made an appeal for peace. "It seems that war has been declared on peace," the pope said in his Easter message from the Vatican, calling for an end to the "dramatic spiral of abuse of power and killings that bloody the Holy Land."

Today's mid-afternoon attack on the restaurant in Haifa stood out from the recent violence because the locale was popular with Jews and Arabs alike. Haifa, population 270,000, has long been regarded as a city where Jews and Arabs easily coexisted.

The Matza restaurant is owned by a Jew but managed by a family of Israeli Arabs. It sits next to a hillside on a block that includes a gas station and a car wash, in a neighborhood where Jews, Muslims and Christians say they have gotten along just fine.

Ali Adawi, one of five Arab employees of the restaurant who were wounded in the explosion, said he had wrongly assumed that the multi-ethnic nature of the Matza would make it an unlikely choice for a suicide bomber.

"I never believed this would happen," he told reporters from his hospital bed. "The restaurant just exploded. They didn't differentiate between Jews and Arabs."

Police did not break down the number of casualties, but local authorities said both Jews and Arabs were among the fatalities. In addition to the bomber, who was killed instantly, and the 15 other dead, at least three dozen people were wounded, with eight listed in serious condition and one in critical condition, police and rescue workers said.

It was one of the deadliest suicide attacks since the Palestinian uprising began in September 2000. A bombing at a Passover celebration dinner in Netanya Wednesday night killed 22 people, as did a blast at a Tel Aviv disco last June.

The bomber wore a black jacket to conceal several pounds of explosives wrapped around his midsection, police said. He ran into the restaurant about 2:30 p.m. and triggered the explosives immediately. About 40 people were inside. There was no security guard present, authorities said.

Witness Shimon Sabag said many people caught fire, with several burned so badly that they were beyond help. "I couldn't deal with the critical injuries, so I turned to the moderate [ones]," Sabag told Israel Radio. "I tried to put out the fire. Even the moderately injured were on fire."

The blast destroyed the one-story building, blowing apart the roof and causing it to collapse on the people inside. The wreckage was tangled in strips of metal and shards of glass.

The Islamic Resistance Movement, known as Hamas, said it had carried out the attack and warned of more. "We will continue the martyrdom attacks on Israel until the full withdrawal from Palestinian territory," Hamas announced over mosque loudspeakers in a Palestinian refugee camp in Jenin in the West Bank.

The group identified the assailant as Shadi Abu Tubasi, 22, of Jenin. Israeli media reported that he was the son of a Palestinian father and an Israeli Arab mother, and that his family said he was an Israeli citizen.

About two hours after the blast at the restaurant, a Palestinian suicide bomber injured four people in the Israeli settlement of Efrat, south of Bethlehem in the West Bank. One person, a paramedic, was critically injured, while another person was seriously wounded and two others suffered minor injuries. The attack took place near a small medical center in the Jewish settlement. Israeli officials said the bomber walked up to a group of volunteer medics and blew himself up.

The suicide bombers have sent new waves of anxiety through Israeli society, reaching corners of Haifa that were often calm in the past. Avraham Alperen, 32, a Haifa spice merchant, said many Jews liked to eat at the Matza restaurant precisely because it was run by an Arab family. "People felt safe to go there because it was an Arabic restaurant," he said. "It was very popular. Now, you can't feel safe anywhere."

Added Melissa Perez, a 25-year-old clothing store clerk: "In Haifa, we aren't used to this. We expect it in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, but not here." She said the bombing, a few hundred yards from her store, was prompting her to rethink her wedding plans in May.

The Jewish owner of the restaurant, Miki Matza, was sitting in a gas station that is part of the same complex when the bomb went off. He said he could not understand why someone would want to kill his customers and employees.

"People came just to pass a day of fun at the restaurant like they have for years. Jews and Arabs together," Matza told the Associated Press. "And all that's left of them is broken bodies, pieces of body that flew in the air."

After five suicide bomb attacks in as many days, Israelis said they have adjusted to the prospect of frequent terrorist attacks. They said restaurants and cafes are considered high-risk. Large supermarkets are considered more dangerous than smaller neighborhood stores. Movies are out, but home video shops are doing a brisk business. Buses are higher risk, so more people are now driving their children to school.

Restaurants have been particularly hard-hit, with people preferring take-out orders, and many have added surcharges to pay for the cost of hiring additional security guards at entrances.

Under new national police rules that went into effect this month, all public establishments over 500 square yards in size are required to have security guards. In Haifa, the mayor said he was now ordering all businesses to post guards at entrances regardless of their size. But several Israelis noted that even security guards are not necessarily a deterrent: A teenager who blew herself up at a Jerusalem supermarket last week was stopped by a guard before she detonated her explosive belt, killing the guard and a young woman about her same age, along with herself.

In Jerusalem, the number of people praying at the Western Wall was smaller than usual for this holiday period, and those who did venture there found new metal detectors and longer waits. And the number of Christian pilgrims involved in traditional Easter processions was said to be a fraction of that from past years.

In Haifa, some residents said the bombing was a random attack; others surmised that it was intended as a message to Israeli Arabs, warning them not to mix with Jews.

Still others speculated that the bomber had his eyes on a more spectacular target -- a glistening, three-story shopping mall nearby -- but that he was probably dissuaded by heavy security there.

The enclosed mall, known as the Grand Canyon, is a five-minute walk from the restaurant and was filled with thousands of shoppers at the time of the blast. It emptied out almost immediately afterward, as people cried hysterically and tried to reach their loved ones on cell phones.

Five hours later, it remained open for business but there were few customers. Avi Edri, 26, a television salesman, predicted that shoppers would stay away for at least a week, maybe more, fearful that the mall might be next.

"I think people assume [the bomber] wanted to come to the Grand Canyon, but went to the restaurant instead because the security is so good," he said. "But this just shows there is no safe place. The last five days have been so intense that people are really afraid to go out."

Correspondent Keith B. Richburg in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

Posted by David Melle at May 13, 2002 12:23 PM
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