Bomb Attack Kills 7 Israelis, Hurts Dozens
By Yasser AbuMoailek
Middle East Correspondent
Gaza City, Feb. 22, 2004 — A Palestinian militant detonated himself in an Israeli bus in the city of Jerusalem early this morning, killing seven Israelis and injuring 66 others. Israeli security sources and media reports stated that a Palestinian apparently got into bus 14 at about 8:30 a.m. local time in the city of Jerusalem, and after some time as the bus passed near a gas station in downtown Jerusalem, he detonated an explosive charge he was carrying on himself, triggering a huge blast that ripped through the bus. Hospital officials in Jerusalem's Hadassa Ein Karem said one of the victims was a woman, while the other was a Staff Sergeant in the Israeli forces. The "Egged" green bus was completely charred from the inside, with window frames and iron beams sticking out of its back. Eyewitnesses said that body parts and shattered glass scattered on a radius of two blocks. Many nearby shop-displays were completely shattered, wounding some of the customers and employees inside. The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the military wing of the Fatah movement, the ruling party in the Palestinian territories, claimed responsibility for the Jerusalem attack in a statement released shortly after it. The statement named the bomber as Mohammed Zoghol, 23, from the village of Hosan, near Bethlehem City. "This blessed martyrdom operation comes in retaliation to the hideous Zionist massacre in Gaza Strip on February 11, during which 15 of our courageous Palestinian people lost their lives. This operation also sends out a response to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Nazi Wall ("Apartheid Wall" in West Bank) he is building on our lands," excerpts from the Brigades' statement read.
|Bus No. 14 at the scene of the attack. Courtesy AP|
As soon as the name of the bomber was announced, the family of Zoghol in the village of Hosan started removing furniture and personal belongings from the family home, fearing the Israeli forces would demolish the house, as they usually do for each Palestinian militant's house. Human rights organizations consider this action by the Israeli forces as unlawful and internationally prohibited, as it amounts to collective punishment against civilian population. However, Israeli continues to do so for more than three years now. The Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei' condemned Sunday's bombing. In a statement, he called for "an immediate halt to these actions," and demanded Israel to immediately agree to a mutual cease-fire, as well as a swift and reciprocal implementation of the U.S.-sponsored "Road Map" peace plan. The Jerusalem bombing came just a day before the International Court of Justice at the Hague was to begin hearings on the legal consequences of the construction of a wall in the occupied Palestinian territories. Israel claims that the purpose of building the wall is to prevent the infiltration of Palestinian militants to carry out attacks in Israel, while the Palestinians, who lost thousands of acres of their fertile lands to the wall, say it amounts to a land grab because it cuts miles deep into their lands, disrupting the lives of nearly 800,000 Palestinians.
|Undated photo of Mohammed Zoghol, 23, who Israelis suspect carried out the attack on bus 14 in Jerusalem. Coutresy AP|
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Yasser AbuMoailek, a journalist and feature writer working for the International Press Center in Gaza Strip. He contributes to many circulations inlcuding the Seoul Times, as well as monitoring the situation in the Middle East, especially the Palestinian territories.