Massacre in Tel-Aviv: double homicide bombing by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad leaves 23 dead

Israel Insider (www.israelinsider.com) reports that murderers from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad are responsible for a double homicide bombing in Tel-Aviv:

Two powerful blasts, about 2 minutes apart, ripped through a crowded neighborhood near the old Tel Aviv bus station around 6:15 this evening.

Two suicide bombers are believed to have carried out the attack. There are at least 19 fatalities and 114 injured, nine in serious or critical condition.

Several of the bodies are so badly burned or ripped by shrapnel that police say they will be difficult to identify. Most of the victims are believed to be foreign workers, not Israelis.

It was by far the most deadly bombing attack in Tel Aviv in recent years.

Eyewitness Alon Oz told Army Radio: "I heard the explosion, I felt the shockwave. I realized there would be many casualties. We looked for people who were breathing. I called over to them. I counted quite a few seriously wounded. People were lying there."

Tomer, another eyewitness, reported seeing sights more horrifying than anything he had ever seen. "I saw a man without a leg. I saw horrible things, people without legs, without arms. I saw fingers," he said.

An Israeli mother rushed to a body being carried away, covered in a blanket. Unrestrainable by rescue workers, she lifted the blanket, and cried: "That's my son! That's him!"

This has been one of the worst deliberate mass murders executed by the Palestinians since Arafat decided to reject peace and join forces with the Islamic Jihad in October 2000 (see the Palestine page for details). For a full list of homicide bombings executed by the Palestinians, click here.

Update: The Jerusalem Post reports in this article that the death toll has risen to 23.

I just heard on Israeli radio that the Israeli cabinet is currently discussing the option of arresting and/or deporting Yasser Arafat. Shaul Mofaz, the Defense minister, is pushing for expelling the Palestinian murderer, but it is unlikely this will happen - Israel does not want to interfere with America's preparation on the war with Iraq.

I copy the full article below.





Two bombers explode in Tel Aviv, killing 19, many foreign workers
By israelinsider staff January 5, 2003
http://web.israelinsider.com/bin/en.jsp?
enZone=Security&enDisplay=view&enPage=
ArticlePage&enDispWhat=object&enDispWho=Article^l1818

Two powerful blasts, about 2 minutes apart, ripped through a crowded neighborhood near the old Tel Aviv bus station around 6:15 this evening.

Two suicide bombers are believed to have carried out the attack. There are at least 19 fatalities and 114 injured, nine in serious or critical condition.

Several of the bodies are so badly burned or ripped by shrapnel that police say they will be difficult to identify. Most of the victims are believed to be foreign workers, not Israelis.

It was by far the most deadly bombing attack in Tel Aviv in recent years.

Eyewitness Alon Oz told Army Radio: "I heard the explosion, I felt the shockwave. I realized there would be many casualties. We looked for people who were breathing. I called over to them. I counted quite a few seriously wounded. People were lying there."

Tomer, another eyewitness, reported seeing sights more horrifying than anything he had ever seen. "I saw a man without a leg. I saw horrible things, people without legs, without arms. I saw fingers," he said.

An Israeli mother rushed to a body being carried away, covered in a blanket. Unrestrainable by rescue workers, she lifted the blanket, and cried: "That's my son! That's him!"

The first explosion, on the Neve Sha'anan street pedestrian mall, took place outside McChina, a crowded restaurant filled with diners at the time of the blast.

Sharon to young Jews: immigrate!
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was on his way to a festive gathering of young Jewish visitors when he was informed of the attack. He insisted on speaking at the engagement, albeit more briefly than planned.

"We see again today the severe nature of things that the State of Israel is facing," he told the audience. "Our goal is to stop the brutal terror and to achieve calm and quiet. Only when the brutal nature of terror is stopped, only then we will be able to talk peace. All attempts to reach a ceasefire, even today, are failing due to the Palestinian leadership which continues to support, fund, and initiate terror."

"We need you here now more than ever," Sharon told participants in the birthright israel program, an organization which brings Jewish young people on free gift trips to Israel. "When I look at you, thousands of youngsters who came from all around the world, I know we can look forward with optimism and I am sure that together with you we will be able to achieve the hopes and dream of Israel." He called on the young people in the audience to immigrate to Israel. "We want you to make aliya."

Rival Amram Mitzna, competing with Sharon in the January 28 election, said that his thoughts were with the victims and repeated his call for a new security policy that would include building a separation fence to keep Palestinian terrorists out of Israeli cities.

Foreign workers hardest hit
The area is frequented by foreign residents of Israel, and the area was crowded with workers returning home at the time of the explosion.

The area has been the scene of two previous attacks in the past year. On July 17, 2002, two suicide bombers exploded in the Neve Sha'anan Quarter, killing three other people and wounding forty others. 32 people were wounded in a suicide blast on Neve Sha'anan street on January 25, 2002.

The neighborhood is an easy target in part because terrorists blend in easily among the foreign residents.

Officials have issued an unusual statement, in English, that all of the wounded will be treated on the basis of "no questions asked," including the ability to remain anonymous, an important consideration for foreign workers who may lack valid visas. The announcement assured all that no one coming forward would be arrested or deported.

Condemnations and claims of credit
An official at the Prime Minister's Office, David Baker, condemned the attack, saying that Israel had no other choice but to fight terrorism with "a fury."

"The Palestinian terrorist campaign of carnage has struck at innocent Israelis in Tel Aviv," he said. "Israel will not yield to Palestinian terror and will fight it with a fury. We have no other choice."

The Palestinian terror groups Islamic Jihad and Hamas have both claimed credit for the attack, and spokesmen for the organizations praised the act and vowed to carry out additional attacks. The Palestinian Authority, representatives of which have been meeting in political debates with Hamas representatives in Egypt, has issued a statement of condemnation.

There have been reports that representatives of the Israeli governments have also been involved, directly or indirectly, in these talks.

Posted by David Melle
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