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June 18, 2002
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Palestinian homicide/suicide bomber kills 19 unarmed Israeli civilians in Jerusalem bombing

Ha'aretz (www.haaretzdaily.com) reports that a Palestinian homicide/suicide bomber has murdered 19 unarmed Israeli civilians when he blew himself up on a bus full of passengers.

The remains of the Jerusalem bus where 19 unarmed Israeli civilians were murdered
Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack in an official statement broadcast on the militant movement's television station. It said that the bomber was Muhammad Haza el-Rol, a 22-year-old student at al-Najah University in the West Bank city of Nablus, and that he came from the Jenin area.

He had apparently disappeared about three days ago. His father told Reuters from his home in the al-Fara refugee camp, near Nablus, that he was "very happy" to hear that his son was the bomber.

I copy the full article below.

19 killed, 50 injured in suicide bombing on Jerusalem bus
By Jonathan Lis, Anshel Pfeffer and Haim Shadmi,
Ha'aretz Correspondents and Ha'aretz Service and Agencies - June 18, 2002
http://news.haaretz.co.il/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=177619

At least 19 people were killed and 50 injured Tuesday morning when a suicide bomber blew himself up on a bus full of passengers, many of them high school students, in southern Jerusalem. Five of the wounded were in serious condition.

The explosion took place around 8 A.M. near the Pat Junction on Egged bus line 32A from the neighborhood of Gilo. The blast ripped through the bus, leaving it a charred, mangled hulk at the side of the road.

Two of the victims have been identified as the driver of the bus, Rahamim Zidkiyahu, 51, who will be buried at 5 P.M. in the capital, and Shiri Negari, 22, from Gilo, who will be laid to rest at 5:45 P.M. at Har Hamenuchot cemetery in the capital.

The wounded were taken to three Jerusalem hospitals for treatment: Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem; Hadassah University Hospital, Mount Scopus; and Sha'are Zedek Medical Center.

Contrary to initial reports, the head of the Abu Kabir Forensic Center, Professor Yehuda Hiss, said Tuesday afternoon that most of those killed in the bombing were adults.

Hamas claims responsibility for attack

Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack in an official statement broadcast on the militant movement's television station. It said that the bomber was Muhammad Haza el-Rol, a 22-year-old student at al-Najah University in the West Bank city of Nablus, and that he came from the Jenin area.

He had apparently disappeared about three days ago. His father told Reuters from his home in the al-Fara refugee camp, near Nablus, that he was "very happy" to hear that his son was the bomber.

Shalom Sabag was driving in front of the red-and-white Egged commuter bus that had been plying its route through southern Jerusalem to the city's central bus station during the morning rush hour.

"I stopped the car and ran to the bus. I was the first person to get on the bus and take people off," Sabag told Reuters.

"The bodies were piled up near the door of the bus on the right side. He didn't wait to blow up - he blew up straight away. I took off the bodies of two girls and a man.

Ruth Elmaliach, a teacher at a high school near the scene of the explosion, said she was in her car, waiting for the light to change at the junction, when the explosion went off.

"I'm sure our students were on the bus. I saw how the bus blew up... The bus is always packed at this hour...now we're checking to see if all the students have arrived but I'm afraid some of them have not," Elmaliach told Israel Radio.

Shlomi Calderon, a witness to the bombing, told Army Radio, "the bus left the stop and as soon as it entered traffic there was a very large explosion and all the parts [of the bus] flew everywhere. There was complete shock in the area. It was horrible, horrible. All of the bus' parts flew everywhere in a radius of 150 meters."

Police still on high alert in Jerusalem

Jerusalem police were still on high alert Tuesday for terror attacks in Jerusalem. Security forces were on high alert throughout the capital the previous night, after receiving a specific warning that a suicide bomber was planning to carry out an attack in the capital.

Police had set up roadblocks in various parts of the city, and a police helicopter had been used in an attempt to locate the bomber.

"There are more warnings," Jerusalem district Police Chief Mickey Levy told reporters at the scene of the bombing. "We are deployed and are still searching for the suspects."

Levy said that before Tuesday's blast, police had received what he called a "hot warning" that a bombing was about to take place in Jerusalem.

"Sometimes we succeed in locating the bomber and sometimes unfortunately we don't succeed in neutralising the bomber... The warning yesterday [Monday] was general. It was not specific," Levy said.

The bombing comes on the eve of U.S. President George W. Bush's much-anticipated address on the Middle East conflict, in which he is widely expected to lay out a framework on how to create an independent Palestinian state with a constitution and a unified security force.

Bush's vision, which could include a recommendation for a provisional Palestinian state with temporary borders and limited sovereignty, may be announced as early as Tuesday or Wednesday.

Posted by David Melle at June 18, 2002 07:37 AM
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