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November 15, 2003
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Islamic Mass Murderers kill 20 in Synagogues bombings in Istanbul

The Jerusalem Post (www.jpost.com) reports that racist Islamic mass murderers (probably from Al-Qaeda) have killed 20 and injured hundreds in two car bombings in front of synagogues in Istanbul, Turkey:

At least twenty people were killed and 260 wounded in near-simultaneous bombings of two Istanbul synagogues on Saturday morning.

Two cars exploded at about 9:30am at Nevei Shalom Synagogue, the city's largest, and at Beth Israel Synagogue in the affluent district of Shishli about 5 kilometers (3 miles) away. [...]

An Israeli visitor at the scene in Shishli told Army Radio that the explosion appeared to have affected the 2nd floor more than the first, and that many of the injured are women. Television footage showed a 1.5m crater near the synagogue. [...]

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon expressed "shock and outrage" at the attacks and sent Israel's condolences to the Turkish people. The Prime Minister also said he had full confidence in Turkey's ability to find those responsible for the attacks and bring them to justice. The Bush administration condemned the atack, saying that the US would stand by its allies in the war against terrorism.

I copy the rest of the article below.

Istanbul synagogues car bombed, 20 killed
By JPOST.COM STAFF, Nov. 15, 2003, Link

At least twenty people were killed and 260 wounded in near-simultaneous bombings of two Istanbul synagogues on Saturday morning.

Two cars exploded at about 9:30am at Nevei Shalom Synagogue, the city's largest, and at Beth Israel Synagogue in the affluent district of Shishli about 5 kilometers (3 miles) away.

Istanbul's Jewish community has released the names of five of its members killed in the attacks.

Yoel Olchar, 20, from Istanbul.
Aidan Verol, 40.
Anita Rubenstein
Breta Ozdogan and her Muslim husband Ahmed Ozdogan.
Yona Romano. Romano died in hospital from a heart attack after the attack.

Of the 260 wounded in the attacks, 80 are Jewish, according to the Foreign Ministry.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon expressed "shock and outrage" at the attacks and sent Israel's condolences to the Turkish people. The Prime Minister also said he had full confidence in Turkey's ability to find those responsible for the attacks and bring them to justice. The Bush administration condemned the atack, saying that the US would stand by its allies in the war against terrorism.

It is still unclear whether the vehicles used in both of the attacks were driven by suicide bombers, or if they were parked at the scene beforehand. Footage from security cameras showed a red Fiat exploding in front of Nevei Shalom synagogue, and the driver who parked the car walking away, police told the Anatolia News Agency.

Parking was not allowed in front of the heavily guarded synagogues but intelligence sources said two slow moving pickup trucks could have been exploded while passing by, private NTV television said.

"The houses and cars are completely destroyed, as if a huge earthquake hit the area," Sabri Yalim, the head of Istanbul's fire department, told NTV outside Neve Shalom.

The latest available casualty report is that seven Turkish Jews and seven Muslims were killed in the attack, Rafael Sadi, a representative of the Turkish community in Israel said on Cahnnel 1 Saturday evening.

Two private security guards and a Turkish policeman were also killed in the attacks.

An Israeli police team has left for Istanbul to assist local authorities in the investigation, Channel 2 reported.

Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said there were "international connections" to the attacks. "It is clear that this is a terrorist event with international links," Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said in televised remarks. "These attacks will have no effect on our policies. We will continue our struggle with strong determination against terror."

Police were investigating whether the al-Qaida terror network had any link to the bombings, private CNN-Turk television reported. Interior Minister Abdulkadir Aksu refuted earlier reports that the Great Eastern Islamic Raiders' Front claimed responsibility, but has linked the attack to the larger war on terror.

An Israeli visitor at the scene in Shishli told Army Radio that the explosion appeared to have affected the 2nd floor more than the first, and that many of the injured are women. Television footage showed a 1.5m crater near the synagogue.

NTV television said a red car was seen parked just before the explosion in front of Nevei Shalom. Police suspected that the car may have been laden with explosives, NTV said.

"There is a huge pit on the ground. The houses and cars are completely destroyed, as if a huge earthquake hit the area," Sabri Yalim, head of Istanbul's fire department, told NTV.

Enver Eker, an eyewitness, said, "There was huge panic, glasses exploding and metal pieces all over the place. There were lots of people injured. We saw someone put a head in a cardboard box."

"This is a bomb aimed at the stability and peace in the Turkish Republic," Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters during a visit to the breakaway Turkish Cypriot republic. "I am damning this. I am condemning this because this is an attack against the humanity."

Ifat Morad, a Jewish Agency representative in Turkey, said all the wounded are being treated in Istanbul's hospitals. Morad said there were Jewish casualties, but would not release further details.

She said some of the wounded were young men who were guarding the Synagogues at the time of the attacks. Morar added that representatives of the Israeli community in Istanbul, including social workers and psychologists, were attending to the wounded. "Unfortunately we are experienced in dealing with terror attacks," Morad said.

Previous reports put the death toll as high as 24, and Turkish police have not yet reduced their count, Israel Radio reported.

Israel denounced the blasts in an official Foreign Ministry statement, calling them "criminal terror attacks" and saying "terror is terror whether it targets Jews or non-Jews."

"Once again, we see that terrorism is not only directed against Israel or the Jews, it is a global threat that has to be challenged and dealt with jointly by the international community," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Jonathan Peled.

Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said that the way Israel was being portrayed on the European continent could not be disconnected from Saturday's attacks. He said Israel was being incited against, and incitement leads to physical terror.

Israeli anti-terrorism officials said there were no specific terror warnings against the Istanbul synagogues, Channel 1 reported.

Israel's ambassador to Turkey, Pinhas Avivi, said Istanbul's Jewish community is in a difficult state, but is coping with the aftermath of the attack. "We will have to raise our heads and not let this defeat us," the ambassador said. Avivi told Channel 1 that the US Ambassador in Turkey phoned him and offered assistance.

Venizeia Eltram, the aunt of the young man performing his Bar Mitzvah ritual at Nevei Shalom Synagogue Saturday morning, said that the Torah's were being taken out when she heard a huge blast during the prayer service. "The windows exploded and shards hit people. We scrambled for the emergency exits, there was blood everywhere, I saw five or six bodies lying in-front of me," Eltram said.

Security has been extremely tight around the Nevei Shalom synagogue since 1986, when Palestinian terrorists shot dead 22 worshippers. Many of the dead in Saturday's attack appear to have been passersby outside the synagogues rather than worshippers inside, CNN reported.

Former Ambassador to Turkey Dr Alon Liel said that relations between Jews and Muslims in Turkey have improved dramatically in the past decade. "The Jewish community feels sure and safe. They don't feel the anti-Semitism and terrorism. This attack is unprecedented," Liel said.

Turkey's Chief Rabbi Isak Haleva had a slight hand injury, but his son Yosef suffered serious facial wounds and underwent eye surgery, another son, Mordehay Haleva, told the semi-official Anatolia News Agency.

"To do something like this when people are praying - this is truly beyond the pale of human conduct. Even animals don't commit evil like this," the chief rabbi told Israel Radio.

"During the middle of the prayer, I heard a huge explosion. There was smoke everywhere. I saw all the buildings around us were damaged. We have been waiting for an attack," the chief rabbi added. "We felt one was coming."

"An explosion of hatred"

A Jewish Agency official said Saturday that the agency is seeing "an explosion of hatred" towards Israel on the European continent. The chief of the Agency's mission to Turkey, who is heading out to Turkey later Saturday, said his team would be made up of doctors and social workers to bring solidarity and assistance to the wounded. The mission will also check in with the rest of the Jewish institutions in Turkey "to measure their pulse following this attack," Amos Helmon told Israel Radio.

Unsolved murders connected?

In September and October, two Turkish Jews were killed in an identical manner, giving rise to suspicion that the murders were politically motivated.

The body of Muiz Konor, 32, an owner of a catering company, was found bound and shot in a forest on the outskirts of Istanbul. Three weeks earlier, the body of dentist Yosef Yehiyeh, a 35-year-old father of two, was discovered in his clinic, bound and shot the same way.

Both victims were shot at close range and had not been robbed, said reports.

Moshe Knafi, senior official of the Israeli embassy in Turkey, said the country's 22,000 Jews were closely following the investigation of the two murders. "Two similar murders have occurred in Istanbul... but it's important to note that anti-Semitism doesn't exist in Turkey. The [Jewish] community is strongly connected to the Turkish government, and its leaders are extremely popular here. These murders are therefore very strange."

In a possible link to the latest Istanbul attack, the PLO's "declaration of independence" occurred on November 15, 1988, at the Algiers Summit, where they declared a Palestinian state.

Meanwhile, the Northern Paris Torah High School was torched on Saturday morning. French police said there was "strong suspicion of arson."

They said the fire was started at two different locations in the building. According to reports, 220 students attend the school. There were no injuries.

Israel has offered Turkey any assistance that might be required, and the foreign ministry has set up a hotline at (02) 530-3155.

The Jewish Agency has opened a hotline at (03) 620-2202.

Flights to Turkey are continuing from Israel, a tour operator told Israel Radio, and no warnings have been issued to Israelis to stay away from Turkey.

Posted by David Melle at November 15, 2003 09:55 AM
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