Chapter 2



This chapter outlines the pattern of suicide bombing attacks in Israel from 1994-2006. Sometimes there were gaps between bombings of months or weeks. During 2000 to 2004, the frequency of the bombings intensified until they were sometimes several in one week and, on occasion, more than one a day. 


A suicide bombing attack on 6 April 1994 killed eight people on a bus in the northern town of Afula. The bomber used a car bomb, and Hamas claimed responsibility. Seven days later, on April 13, five people were killed in a suicide bombing attack in the central bus station of the coastal town of Hadera near Haifa. Again, Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack. Six months later, on 19 October 1994, there was another suicide bombing attack on a bus in downtown Tel Aviv. Twenty-one Israelis and one Dutch citizen were killed. 

The following month, on 11 November 1994, three soldiers were killed at the Netzarim junction in the Gaza Strip when a bomber riding a bicycle detonated explosives strapped to his body. Islamic Jihad claimed the attack was to avenge the car bomb killing of an Islamic Jihad leader.

On 22 January 1995, two consecutive bombs exploded at the highway junction of Beit Lyd near the coastal town of Netanya, killing 18 soldiers and one civilian. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility. They attacked again, using an explosives-laden van which rammed into a bus near Kfar Darom in the Gaza strip, killing seven Israelis and one American. On 24 July 1995, six civilians were killed in a suicide bombing attack on a bus in Ramat Gan. 

In August, three Israelis and one American were killed in a suicide bombing on a Jerusalem bus. Between April 1994 and July 1995, a period of fifteen months, 74 Israelis died, of whom 53 (71%) were civilians. The attraction of targeting public transportation was due to the high concentration of people in a small space, thus maximizing casualties and intensifying extent of injury. 

Between April 1994 and July 1995 (15 months) 74 Israelis died 71% of them civilians 


The targeting of public transportation continued. On 25 February 1996, bus #18 was nearing the central bus station in Jerusalem when it exploded. Twenty-six people were killed, 17 civilians and nine soldiers. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack. On the same day, an Israeli was killed in a suicide bombing at a hitchhiking post outside the coastal town of Ashkelon, again the work of Hamas. 

In March the bombers introduced an innovation bombs packed with nails to maximize casualties and injuries. On 4 March 1996, a suicide bomber detonated a 20-kilogram nail bomb outside the Dizengoff Center in Tel Aviv, killing 13  twelve civilians and one soldier (a survivor of that bombing is interviewed later in this report). It was clear that the 'war against civilians' had really been declared. 


Seventeen days later, on 2 March 1997, three people were killed and 48 wounded when a suicide bomber detonated a bomb on the terrace of a crowded Tel Aviv cafe. Following this, the targeting of Israeli civilians was then scaled up to include cafes, and further increased to include hundreds of casualties in public market areas. On 30 July 1997, sixteen people were killed and 178 wounded in two consecutive suicide bombings in the pre-Sabbath crowds at the Mahane Yehuda outdoor market in Jerusalem. The streets of the Holy City of Jerusalem were again stained with civilian blood on 4 September 1997, when five people were killed and 181 wounded in three suicide bombings on the Ben Yehuda pedestrian mall. Perhaps the attackers considered that killing Israeli civilians would evoke no serious international condemnation. 

At that point, if there had been an international outcry at the primary targeting of civilians by the bombers and their masters, perhaps the next years might have been less bloody for Israeli civilians. However, there were only the customary token condemnations. Then, it was the turn of the schoolchildren. On 29 October 1998, a bomber drove an explosives-laden car into an Israeli army jeep escorting a bus with 40 elementary school students from the settlement of Kfar Darom in the Gaza Strip. One soldier was killed, and the children were traumatized. 


At the dawn of the millennium year 2000, the world celebrated, often with fireworks, and hoped that it might bring a better path forward. Millions watched on television the open-air Mass celebrated by the late Pope John Paul above the Lake of Galilee. However, the agenda of the suicide bombers and their masters changed hardly at all. In September 2000, the 'Second Intifada' was declared by Yasser Arafat. By November, the suicide bombers were once again back on stream like an evil torrent. In fact, they had never been 'turned off'.

On 2 November 2002, the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem was again the target of an Islamic Jihad car bomb attack, which killed two Israeli women and wounded ten people. Twenty days later, on 20 November 2000, a roadside bomb exploded at 7.30 am alongside a bus carrying children from Kfar Darom to school. Two adults were killed, and nine wounded, including five schoolchildren (three children from the same family lost limbs). These 'soft' civilian targets were again the primary targets of the bombers. 

Two days later, on 22 November 2000, a powerful car bomb was detonated alongside a passing bus on the main street of the coastal town of Hadera, south of Haifa. Two civilians were killed and 60 wounded. The area had been packed with shoppers and people driving home from work. On 22 December 2000, three soldiers were wounded in a suicide bombing attack at the Mehola Junction roadside cafe in the northern Jordan Valley. The millennium year had begun with fireworks and hope. It ended in Israel with six dead civilians and around 82 wounded from suicide bombing attacks. 


The year 2001 held for Israeli civilians a total of thirty-three suicide bombings, an average of nearly three a month. On 1 January, a car bomb exploded near a bus stop in a crowded shopping area in the coastal town of Netanya, north of Tel Aviv. Sixty people were wounded. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack. On 8 February, another powerful car bomb exploded in Jerusalem in the ultra-religious neighbourhood of Beit Yisroel, wounding four civilians. Six days later, on 14 February, eight people were killed and 25 wounded when a bus driven by a Palestinian terrorist ploughed into a group of civilians and soldiers waiting at a bus stop near Holon, south of Tel Aviv. 

Two weeks later, on 1 March, the first of a series of suicide bombings occurred in Wadi Ara (which some Israelis came to call 'Death Valley'), a highway which winds eastwards from the coast through hills towards Nazareth, Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee. A bomber blew up a communal taxi at the Mei Ami junction in Wadi Ara, killing one person and wounding nine. March continued with the bloody slaughter of civilians on the coast and in Jerusalem. On 4 March, downtown Netanya was once more the scene of civilian carnage three civilians were killed and at least 60 wounded. 


The morning calm of Jerusalem was shattered on 27 March 2001 when a car bomb exploded in the Talpiot industrial and commercial zone. Seven people were wounded. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility. On 27 March, bus #6 was blown up by a Hamas bomber at the French Hill junction in northern Jerusalem, wounding 28 people, two seriously. The next day, two teenagers were killed and four wounded, one critically, in a suicide bombing at the Migdal Hashalom (ironically named 'peace stop') gas station, several hundred metres from the entrance leading to Qalqilya. Hamas claimed responsibility. 

On 22 April, a terrorist detonated a powerful bomb near a group of people waiting at a bus stop in the town of Kfar Saba, not far from Tel Aviv. One civilian was killed and 60 wounded in the blast, two seriously. Again, the work of Hamas. Next day, eight people were lightly hurt in a car bombing in a town packed with shoppers, not far from Ben Gurion international airport. Six days later a car bomb blew up close to a school bus travelling near the West Bank city of Nablus. Amazingly, no one was injured. May continued to be as bloody for civilians as March and April had been. 

On 18 May, a Hamas suicide bomber wearing an explosive vest detonated himself outside the Hasharon Shopping Mall in the coastal town of Netanya. Five civilians were killed and over 100 wounded. The onslaught on coastal towns continued. On 25 May, sixty-five people were wounded when a car bomb driven by two Islamic Jihad suicide bombers exploded in the central bus station in Hadera. Two days later another car bomb exploded in the center of Jerusalem. No one was wounded. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) claimed responsibility. At nine that same morning, near Jerusalem's Jaffa road, a car bomb exploded containing several mortar shells, some of which were propelled hundreds of metres from the site of the explosion. Thirty people were wounded by the Islamic Jihad bomber. 

Schoolchildren were again targeted on 30 May. Another car bomb conveyed by Islamic Jihad exploded shortly before four in the afternoon outside a school in Netanya. Eight students were wounded in the blast. The targeting of young civilians reached its zenith on 1 June 2001 when a suicide bomber blew himself up just before midnight outside the Dolphinarium disco on Tel Aviv's sea front promenade. He had been standing among a large group of teenagers waiting to enter the disco (two mothers who lost children are interviewed in a later chapter). 

Three weeks later, two young soldiers went to assist a jeep supposedly stuck in the sand near Gaza. As they approached, a Hamas bomber blew himself up, killing both soldiers. On 2 July, two separate car bombs placed by PFLP bombers exploded at around 8.20 am in a Tel Aviv suburb, wounding six civilians. On 9 July, a Hamas bomber was killed in a car-bombing attack near a crossing in the southern Gaza strip, with no other casualties. Perhaps the bomb detonated prematurely, averting disaster for civilians waiting at the crossing, most of them Palestinians. 

Targets teenagers waiting to enter a disco 



On 16 July 2001, an Islamic Jihad bomber detonated himself at a bus stop opposite a train station in Binyamina, not far from Haifa. Two people were killed and eleven wounded, three seriously. The four suicide bombings of August began when another Islamic Jihad bomber detonated himself in a car near a moshav (originally a communal farming community) wounding a soldier. Perhaps the zenith of the obscene targeting of civilians was reached when a Hamas-Islamic Jihad bomber carrying an explosive-laden guitar case detonated at the Sbarro Pizzeria in Jerusalem, which was packed with civilian families. Fifteen people were killed, including seven children, and 146 wounded (families of two victims are interviewed later in this report). 

Three days later, twenty-one civilians were wounded when an Islamic Jihad bomber detonated in the Wall Street Cafe at 5.30 pm in the center of Qiryat Motzkin. Nine days later a bomb placed under a car exploded at 2.15 pm near the Russian compound in downtown Jerusalem. The target was undeniably civilians. One woman was wounded. A second very large unexploded bomb was discovered inside the car and dismantled. 

Early one morning in September, twenty people were wounded when a Hamas suicide bomber exploded a powerful bomb near the Bikur Holim hospital in central Jerusalem. The bomber, disguised as a religious Jew, had aroused suspicion of passers-by due to the large backpack he was wearing. As two police officers approached him, he detonated his shrapnel-packed bomb. Both police officers were wounded, one critically. 

In a train station in the northern town of Nahariya, close to the border with Lebanon, a Hamas bomber mingled among the crowd of commuters waiting for the train to arrive from Tel Aviv. As people were exiting the station, he detonated his bomb, killing three people and wounding 90. In Netanya, further south, on 9 September, a car bomb exploded at the Beit Lyd highway junction, wounding 17 people. October began with a large car bomb exploding in the Talpiot neighborhood in Jerusalem. Several people were wounded. Seven days later a civilian was killed when an Islamic Jihad bomber detonated his bomb in a Jordan Valley kibbutz near Beit Shean. 


During the next period, not only Israeli Jewish civilians were targeted, but there were also Israeli Arabs among the bombers' victims. On 26 November 2001, a Hamas bomber lightly wounded two border police officers at the Erez crossing to the Gaza strip. The bomber had joined the line of Palestinian workers waiting to enter Israel. Had he been able to detonate his bomb as planned, many Palestinian civilians might also have been killed. 

Three days later, on 29 November, as bus #823 en route from Nazareth to Tel Aviv neared the coastal town of Hadera, a Hamas bomber blew himself up in the crowded bus, killing three people and wounding nine others (a mother who lost her teenage daughter is interviewed in this report).

The next bomb was for Jerusalem. On 1 December, around 11.30 on a Saturday night, a Hamas bomber detonated a bomb in the crowded Ben Yehuda pedestrian mall in the heart of Jerusalem. Twenty minutes later, while the emergency services were arriving at the scene of carnage, the second bomber detonated a car bomb placed so that it obviously targeted the paramedics and helpers arriving on the scene. That such action totally contravenes any international understanding of wounded civilians eligible to receive medical assistance was not within the 'mind-set' of the bombers and their masters. Eleven people were killed in the blasts and 180 wounded. 

The next day, bus #16 was travelling at midday in the port city of Haifa, when a male Hamas bomber detonated, killing 15 people (including a foreign worker from the Philippines) and wounding 40, some critically. 

Blood continued to flow during the month of December. On 2 December, at 7.30 am, a terrorist exploded a powerful bomb near a bus stop at the Checkpost Junction in northeast Haifa. Thirty people were wounded. A second explosive device was found nearby and detonated. 

On 5 December, at 7.30 am, a powerful bomb exploded, packed with nails and shrapnel, on King David Street in Jerusalem. A number of people waiting at a nearby bus stop were wounded. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility. On 12 December, four people travelling in two cars were lightly wounded in the evening by two suicide bombers near the Gaza Strip community of Neve Dekalim. 

And so, in the year 2001, there had been 34 suicide bombings, an average of almost three every month. In those attacks, 93 people were killed in suicide bombing and car bombing attacks and at least 1154 wounded, the vast majority civilians. 

93 people died and 1154 were wounded in suicide & car bombing attacks in 2001 



The year 2002 began with a suicide bombing on 17 January at a Bar Mitzvah celebration in Hadera in which six people died and dozens were wounded (two women who lost their husbands are interviewed in this report). Then, on 25 January, another bombing occurred outside a pedestrian mall near Tel Aviv's old central bus station. It was Friday at 11.15 am and the area was crowded with shoppers. Twenty-five civilians were wounded. 

Two days later, on 27 January, Jerusalem was again the target of the bombers. Shortly before 12.30 am, a female Fatah bomber armed with 10 kilos of explosives blew herself up in the Jaffa road, killing an elderly civilian and wounded 150 people, four seriously. On a Saturday night in February, a PFLP bomber blew himself up at a pizzeria in Karnei Shomron (Samaria), killing two teenagers and wounding 30 people. 

On 18 February, a major bombing attack was averted when a Bedouin policeman from the Galilee stopped a Fatah bomber on the road to Maale Adumim, east of Jerusalem, and the bomber detonated, killing the policeman. On 27 February, a female suicide bomber blew herself up at a roadblock on the Modiin-Jerusalem road, wounding three police officers. Without the roadblock, she would doubtlessly have succeeded in killing many more civilians. In just the first two months of 2002, four civilians were killed and 183 wounded. 


March 2002 was one of the bloodiest months in terms of civilian casualties of suicide bombers. Jerusalem was again the scene of the next bombing. On 2 March, at 7.15 pm, families had gathered to celebrate a Bar Mitzvah in the religious neighborhood of Beit Israel (House of Israel). A Fatah bomber detonated his bomb next to a group of women waiting with their baby carriages. Ten people were killed and over 50 wounded, four critically. 

Three days later, on 5 March, an Islamic Jihad bomber exploded in Egged bus #823 as it entered the bus station in the northern town of Afula in the lower Galilee. One civilian was killed and a large number wounded. 

On 5 March, in a Tel Aviv market, an Israeli Druse policeman thwarted a suicide bombing, but died himself (his family is interviewed in this report). Just two days later, on 7 March, a PFLP bomber blew himself up in the lobby of a hotel in a commercial center on the outskirts of Ariel on the West Bank. Fifteen people were wounded, one seriously. 

Two days later in Jerusalem, on 9 March, at 11.30 on Saturday night, a Hamas bomber entered the crowded Cafe Moment. He detonated his bomb and eleven people died. (A mother who lost her teenage daughter is interviewed in this report. Also interviewed is a young man, originally from France, who suffered severe wounds and memory loss.) 

The civilian bloodbath continued, with a bomber exploding himself near a bus at the French Hill intersection in northern Jerusalem on 17 March. Twenty-five people were wounded. 

Three days later, seven people were killed and 30 wounded, several seriously, when bus #823, travelling from Tel Aviv to Nazareth, was blown apart by an Islamic Jihad bomber in the 'Death Valley' of Wadi Ara. As the wounded lay dying on the ground, local Arab villagers were reported to have watched them from nearby balconies. 

The next day, 21 March, a Fatah bomber killed three civilians and wounded 83, three of them seriously, in the center of Jerusalem on King George Street. The bomb was packed with metal spikes and nails to achieve maximum damage among the crowds of civilian shoppers. Worse was still to come. 


On 27 March 2002, the deadliest single suicide bombing took place as 250 guests were sitting down to celebrate the Passover holiday in the seaside Park Hotel in Netanya. A Hamas bomber exploded his lethal device, turning the celebration into a massacre. The bodies of 30 dead and 140 wounded survivors were extracted from the chaos of overturned and blood-stained tables (in a later chapter, a senior member of the front-line Emergency Health Staff describes what happened that night). Although used to scenes of civilian carnage in Israel, this bombing was briefly noticed by the outside world, many engaged in celebrating the Easter vacation. The bomber had been on the 'most wanted' list of terrorists Israel had requested the Palestinian Authority to arrest. 

30 dead and 140 wounded among chaos of overturned and blood-stained tables 

Two days later, on 29 March, two civilians were killed and 28 wounded in Jerusalem when a female Fatah bomber blew herself up in a supermarket in Qiryat Yovel. Next day, 30 March, a Fatah bomber blew himself up in a cafe in downtown Tel Aviv, killing one civilian and wounding thirty. 

On 31 March, there were two suicide bombings. At the popular Israeli Arab-run Matza restaurant beside a shopping mall in Haifa Bay, families were eating when a Hamas bomber entered and exploded, killing fifteen people and wounding forty. The finale to the bloodiest month for civilians came on 31 March 2002, when a bomber wounded a Magen David Adom paramedic at the emergency medical center in Efrat, south of Jerusalem. Not content with creating carnage in malls, hotels, cafes and restaurants, the terrorists had escalated to targeting civilian health personnel. 


For Israeli civilians there was no let-up. In Jerusalem the next day, a police officer was killed by a Fatah bomber, who was heading towards the city center and blew himself up when his car was stopped at a roadblock. On 10 April, a Hamas bomber blew himself up aboard Egged bus #960 as it passed Kibbutz Yagur en route from Haifa to Jerusalem. Eight people were killed and 22 wounded. Two days later, a female Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades terrorist killed six people and wounded another 104 when she detonated a powerful bomb at a crowded bus stop at the entrance to the Mahane Yehuda open-air market. It was the second time that market had been targeted by bombers. 

The next target of the bombers was a crowded pool hall on the third-floor Pool Club in Rishon Lezion, southeast of Tel Aviv. A Hamas bomber detonated himself on 7 May, and the powerful explosion caused part of the building to collapse. Sixteen people died and 55 were wounded. Twelve days later, on 19 May, three people were killed and 59 wounded, ten seriously, when a PFLP-Hamas bomber disguised as a soldier blew himself up in the market in Netanya. The next day, in the lower Galilee, a bomber killed only himself after a border policeman approached him for questioning at a bus stop in Wadi Ara en route to Afula. 

Two days later, two people were killed and 40 were wounded when a bomber detonated himself in the Rothschild Street pedestrian mall in Rishon Lezion. And the following day, on 23 May, a bomb planted by terrorists exploded underneath a fuel truck at a large fuel depot north of Tel Aviv. The truck burst into flames, but was quickly contained. 

The next day, a security guard opened fire on a terrorist attempting to ram a car bomb into the Studio 49 Disco in Tel Aviv. The bomb exploded prematurely, wounding five civilians. Three days later, on 27 May, a grandmother and her granddaughter were eating ice cream outside a shopping mall in Petah Tikva. A Fatah bomber blew himself up, killing the grandmother and her granddaughter and wounding 37 civilians, some seriously. 


On 5 June 2002, a crowded Egged bus #830 wound its way from the town of Tiberius by the Sea of Galilee towards Tel Aviv. It passed through Afula and came to Megiddo, scene of a historic papal visit. As it headed towards 'Death Valley' (Wadi Ara), an Islamic Jihad bomber rammed an explosives-laden car into the bus, killing 17 people and wounding 38. Some wounded passengers were unable to move from the shattered bus and were consumed by the flames. 

Six days later, on 11 June, bombers struck the seaside town of Herzliya, home to many diplomatic families. A terrorist, using a pipe bomb, killed a 14-year-old girl and wounded 15 other civilians at a restaurant. Although the bombers had 'invaded diplomatic territory', there was still virtually no outcry against the bombers or their masters. 

Bloodstained Jerusalem was the next target. On 18 June, a bus carrying students on their way to school from the southern suburb of Gilo to the city center was completely destroyed when a Hamas bomber detonated his explosives at the Patt junction, killing 19 civilians and wounding 74. Once again, the nearby pavements were lined with black plastic body bags and the hospitals' Emergency Wards crowded with the dying, the wounded and distraught families seeking their loved ones. 

Next day, a Fatah bomber blew himself up at a crowded bus stop and hitch-hiking post at the north Jerusalem French Hill intersection, the scene of previous carnage. It was around 7 pm, as people were returning from work. Seven people were killed and 50 wounded (a daughter who lost her mother and niece is interviewed in this report). 


The next bombing was claimed by no less than four Palestinian terror organizations, so spectacular and savage was its impact. On 16 July, a crowded bus was travelling from Jerusalem to the West Bank; terrorists disguised as Israeli soldiers waited in ambush. As the bus passed, a bomb was exploded next to the bus. When passengers still alive struggled to get out of the bus and run towards the 'safety' of the 'soldiers', they were shot at close range. Nine civilians died and 20 were wounded. Hamas was held responsible for that attack. 

The next day, on 17 July, five people were killed by an Islamic Jihad bomber, who blew up in a double bombing in the crowded Neve Shaanan area in southern Tel Aviv, near the old central bus station. Of the five civilians killed, three were foreign workers, and around 40 people were wounded, four seriously. 

On 30 July 2003, people were buying falafel (deep-fried chick pea balls packed with spicy salads into round pita breads) in downtown Jerusalem. A bomber detonated near the felafel stand, wounding five civilians. 

On 31 July, students of many ethnic origins, including Arab, were enjoying a meal at the Frank Sinatra Student Center cafeteria at the Hebrew University campus on Mount Scopus. In this popular student eatery, a bomb was detonated; nine people died and 85 were wounded, 14 seriously. The cafeteria was gutted. Perhaps the university had somehow felt it would be exempt from such carnage. 


On 4 August 2002, Egged bus #361 from Haifa wound its way up the mountainous road to the holy city of Safed in the northern Galilee. As it reached the Meron junction, a Hamas bomber blew up in the crowded bus, killing nine people and wounding 50. The next day, 'Death Valley' was again targeted as a bomber exploded in a car near the Arab town of Um el-Fahm, killing the bomber and an Arab Israeli resident of Nazareth. 

On 6 September, six people were killed and around 70 wounded when a Hamas bomber blew up in a bus on Allenby Street in central Tel Aviv. Again, in 'Death Valley', on 18 September, an Israeli policeman was killed and three people wounded in a suicide bombing at the Um el-Fahm junction. The Islamic Jihad bomber was waiting to board a bus, but blew up prematurely when approached by police for questioning. 

On 10 October, a grandmother was killed and 30 people wounded when a Hamas bomber blew himself up while trying to board a bus across from Bar Ilan University, on a main highway near Tel Aviv. Eleven days later, on 21 October, Egged bus #841 was travelling from the northern town of Kyriat Shmona to Tel Aviv through 'Death Valley' when an Islamic Jihad bomber rammed his car, containing around 100 kilos of explosives, into the bus as it pulled into a bus stop. Fourteen people were killed and around 50 wounded. 

On 27 October, a Hamas bomber entered a gas station near the town of Ariel. Two Israeli army officers were killed and another officer wounded when they tried to stop him from detonating his bomb in the gas station; 20 civilians were also wounded in the blast. On 4 November, a security guard and a teenage boy, recently arrived from Argentina, were killed and around 70 people wounded when an Islamic Jihad bomber blew himself up in a shopping mall in Kfar Saba. 

Jerusalem was the next target. A Hamas bomber detonated on Egged bus #20, crowded with schoolchildren during the rush hour in the Qiryat Menahem neighborhood. Eleven people died and 50 were wounded. Thus ended 2002 a total of 242 people had been killed and 1,663 wounded, the overwhelming majority civilians. 

With an average of around four suicide bombings a month, the year 2002 was a particularly bloody year for Israelis. However, brief media images of burning buses and dead schoolchildren still did not result in any effective condemnation in the world outside. Perhaps the realities experienced by Israeli civilians can be better understood by looking at just a single day in 2002. 

A day in the life of Israel 

"Six attacks, 12 killed and 83 wounded" 

On Sunday 5 August 2002, at 8.15 am, Egged bus #361 from Haifa was crowded with sleepy passengers as it wound its way along a forested road in northern Galilee to the hilltop holy city of Safed. The Sea of Galilee glittered below on the distant eastern landscape; a place of beauty, peace and quiet. As the bus reached the Meron junction, there were two tremendous explosions. The bus was engulfed in flames, with the roof partly blown off. Shattered windows and doors were blown out. A suicide bomber had boarded the bus earlier as it wound through Arab villages. 

Now dead, burned and screaming passengers lay strewn around the bus. One wounded passenger saw another running crazily, trying to get pieces of human flesh off his back. Another kept shouting, "Am I alive? Am I dead?" Within five minutes firefighters arrived to try to extinguish the blaze and paramedics to try to extricate the casualties and help those still alive by evacuating them to hospital. Volunteers from 'Zaka' sifted for hours through the wreckage, collecting human body parts for proper burial. Ten people had been killed and over sixty wounded. In the hospital in Safed, dozens of anxious relatives crowded in to find out the fate of their loved ones. They included Druse, new immigrants, soldiers and overseas workers from the Philippines. A young Druse woman lay, her face lacerated and body bruised, unaware that her younger sister, who was supposed to marry in two weeks, had died. 

A quiet morning had been quickly transformed into a nightmare. Hamas, on Hizbullah's Manor television in Lebanon, claimed responsibility for the Meron Junction attack. At dawn that same morning, a terrorist frogman had swum ashore on the southern coast, armed with an assault rifle, eight grenades, four rifle magazines, and gas canisters. He was planning to attack the settlements of Dugit and Elei Sinai in the Gaza Strip. He was killed in an exchange of fire with soldiers. Later the same day, a bomb exploded in Nablus, wounding three soldiers as they were conducting searches in the city. 

At 11:40 am, next to the coffee shops and falafel stands near the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City, a nineteen-year-old terrorist armed with a pistol jumped onto the dashboard of a telephone service truck and shot the driver in the head, killing him. He then tore open the back door and killed an Arab guard. Seventeen other people were wounded. Fatah's al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades claimed responsibility. An Israeli Arab playing cards at a nearby coffee shop was killed as police exchanged fire with and killed the gunmen. The same day, at 1.30 pm on the West Bank near Avnei Hefetz, terrorists in a passing car fired on the car of an Israeli family who had just given a lift to a hitchhiker. Three Israelis were wounded, one critically. The terrorists then fled to the safety of the nearby Palestinian Authority-controlled area. 

One hour later, a roadside bomb was detonated beneath two army jeeps on a road which by-passes Ramallah. Terrorists then opened fire, wounding four soldiers. Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack. The day's toll: twelve killed and 83 wounded just one day in the life of Israel. 

(Compiled partly from reports by David Rudge, Matthew Gutman, Jerusalem Post, 5 August 2002, and other sources.) 


The year 2003 began with a Fatah-Islamic Jihad double suicide bombing on 5 January near the old central bus station in south Tel Aviv. Twenty-two people were killed and around 120 wounded (a foreign worker who survived the blast is interviewed in this report). Two months later, on 5 March, Egged bus #37 was travelling along the mountain-top Moriah Boulevard in Haifa towards the University. A Hamas bomber detonated inside the bus, killing seventeen people and wounding 53. Many of the passengers were schoolchildren and students (the mother of one teenage victim and a bystander are interviewed in this report). 

The bombers then moved down the coast to the seaside town of Netanya, where an Islamic Jihad bomber detonated in a pedestrian mall at the entrance to the London Cafe, wounding over 40 people. On 24 April, a young security guard was killed and 13 people were wounded, two seriously, when a Fatah bomber mingling with passengers outside the Kfar Saba train station blew himself up. The PFLP claimed responsibility for this attack. 

Six days later, on the evening of 30 April, the Tel Aviv sea-front pub Mike's Place was crowded. Suddenly a bomb exploded, killing three civilians and wounding around 60 more. Fatah Tanzim and Hamas claimed responsibility, but investigations later revealed that the attack had been carried out by two British Muslims who had been dispatched from the Gaza Strip (a young jazz musician who survived the blast is interviewed in this report). 

On 17 May, a young couple in their thirties were killed by a Hamas suicide bomber in Hebron. The next day, seven people were killed and twenty wounded in a Hamas suicide bombing on Egged bus #6 at the French Hill intersection in northern Jerusalem. A second suicide bomber detonated his bomb when intercepted by police, also in northern Jerusalem, killing only himself. 

The next day, three soldiers were lightly wounded when a Hamas bomber on a bicycle detonated explosives next to a military jeep near Kfar Darom in the Gaza Strip. On 19 May, an Islamic Jihad female bomber queued to enter a shopping mall in the town of Afula in the lower Galilee. When she detonated her explosives, three people were killed and around 70 wounded (among the wounded was a vascular surgeon at the local hospital who is interviewed in this report). On 22 May, nine people were wounded when a roadside bomb was detonated next to a bus near Netzarim in the Gaza Strip. In the first five months of 2003, fifty-five people had been killed and 388 wounded, the vast majority civilians. 


June 2003 began with another attack on civilian transport. An Islamic Jihad bomber detonated in Jerusalem on Egged bus #14A in the downtown Jaffa Road, killing seventeen people and wounding over 100. Eight days later, on 19 June, another Islamic Jihad bomber detonated in a grocery store near Beit Shean in the lower Galilee, killing the grocery owner. On the evening of 7 July, a sixty-five-year-old woman was in her home on a Moshav with three of her grandchildren. An Islamic Jihad bomber burst in and killed her, and wounded her three grandchildren. The bombers were now also targeting civilians in their own homes. 

On 12 August, a suicide bomber killed two civilians and wounded two others at a bus stop near Ariel. Seven days later yet another Jerusalem bus was the target of a suicide bomber. He detonated himself on Egged bus #2, killing twenty-three people and wounding a record number of 130 people (a wounded survivor who lost her young daughter is interviewed in this report). In just over two months, 42 people were killed by bombers and 252 wounded, many seriously, in attacks on public transport. 

On 9 September, bombers turned their attention to a hitchhiking stop for soldiers outside an army base and a hospital at Tzrifim, southeast of Tel Aviv. A Hamas bomber exploded, killing nine soldiers and wounding another 30 people, many of them civilians. That evening, another Hamas bomber entered the popular Cafe Hillel in Jerusalem's German Colony neighborhood. When he blew himself up, he killed seven people, including a renowned emergency medicine expert and his daughter, who was due to marry the next day. Fifty people were wounded (a survivor of the Cafe Hillel bombing is interviewed in this report). 

On 4 October, a female Islamic Jihad bomber entered the seaside Maxim restaurant in Haifa, jointly owned by Jews and Arabs. She blew herself up among families enjoying their lunch. Twenty-one people died, including four children. Over 60 people were wounded (two survivors who lost family members are interviewed in this report). 

During the next three months, suicide bombings were used against various targets. On 9 October, a bomber exploded near Tulkarm, wounding two soldiers and a Palestinian Arab. Six days later, on 15 October, three American citizens were killed and one wounded at the Beit Hanoun junction in the Gaza Strip when a massive bomb demolished an armor-plated jeep in a convoy carrying U.S. diplomats. 

On 3 November, an Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades bomber blew himself up in the West Bank village of Azun to avoid capture by soldiers. One soldier was wounded. Where the bomber had been heading is not recorded. On 25 December, a PFLP bomber killed four people and wounded over 20 at a bus stop at the Geha Junction east of Tel Aviv, near Petah Tikva. Thus ended 2003. There were 22 suicide bombings that year, which killed 143 people and wounded 787, the vast majority of them civilians. 


The year 2004 began on 14 January with a female Hamas-Fatah bomber who, claiming that it was a metal pin in her leg that caused the alarm to sound, blew herself up inside the Erez terminal in the Gaza Strip, killing four people, including three soldiers. Ten people were wounded. On 29 January, a Palestinian policeman from Bethlehem boarded Egged bus #19. As it passed through the neighborhood of Rehavia in Jerusalem, he blew himself up, killing eight people and wounding 50, thirteen of them seriously (part of an eyewitness account is included in a later chapter of this report). 

On 22 February, Jerusalem was the target of another bloody attack. As Egged bus #4A, packed with schoolchildren, passed within sight of the walls of the Old City, a Fatah bomber from Bethlehem exploded, killing 8 people and wounded 60. On 6 March, there was another attack on the Erez Crossing in the Gaza Strip, involving car bombs camouflaged as Israeli army jeeps. The jeeps exploded on the Palestinian side of the crossing, killing the four terrorists. Two Palestinian policemen were killed. Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah claimed responsibility. 

Eight days later, on 14 March, there was a double suicide bombing at the Mediterranean port of Ashdod, which killed ten people and wounded sixteen. The two Hamas and al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades bombers were believed by security officials to have planned a mega-terrorist attack by blowing themselves up near the port's bromine tanks or other hazardous materials stored there. 

Had the terrorists succeeded in blowing up near the bromine tanks, the effects could have been devastating, with poisonous gases spreading over a 1.5 kilometre radius, killing thousands within minutes. The two bombers reached the port area in a vehicle. One entered the port area, blowing himself up near the offices of a repair shop not far from a cold-storage warehouse. The other bomber blew himself up minutes after, outside the fence surrounding the port. A port worker recalled from his hospital bed, "The bomber entered the building and asked for a drink of water, put his hands in his pockets, and then there was a huge explosion." The explosives used were different from the type usually used in such attacks, possibly similar to the 'data sheet' plastic explosives used by the two British-born bombers at the Mike's Place suicide bombing in Tel Aviv a year earlier. (One theory was that they might have traveled through tunnels from the Gaza Strip into Egypt and then slipped across a southern border into Israel.) 


The Erez Crossing was again targeted on 17 April (the fourth attack there in 2004), when a Hamas-Fatah suicide bomber claimed the lives of six Israeli security personnel; and three people were wounded. The bomber had worked at Erez for two years and had all the necessary entry permits. The Erez crossing was closed indefinitely. The action then moved to a northern checkpoint in the Jordan valley, where a PFLP suicide bomber wounded a soldier and several Palestinians. 

In 6 months, 60 bombings were thwarted, an average of one every three days. 

Between January 2004 and July 2004, sixty suicide bombings were thwarted by the Israeli security forces an average of one every three days. What other country in the world has had to sustain such a continuous and strategic targeting of its civilians? 


In July a bomber detonated explosives near a bus stop in Tel Aviv, killing a female soldier. By mid-August 2004, fifteen suicide bombings had been thwarted an average of one every two days. On 31 August, two male Hamas-Fatah suicide bombers from Hebron struck within 15 seconds of each other. They set off explosions on two buses 100 metres apart in Beersheva, a city in the northern Negev desert. Sixteen people died and more than 100 were wounded. The bodies of the dead hung out of the bus windows. This deadliest attack in almost a year ended the comparative calm of the previous six months, attributed to the crackdown on terrorist groups and the security fence which unfortunately did not extend to Beersheva. 

The Israeli government pledged to accelerate the building of the southern section of the security fence. In September 2004, 32 people, including 13 Israelis, died in twin terror attacks in Taba, Egypt when suicide bombers detonated car bombs outside the Taba Hilton hotel and at the resort area of Ras a-Satan. Rescuers at the Hilton had to burrow through the equivalent of 13 stories of concrete condensed into several compact metres of debris in the basement of the building. 


Passengers waiting at a crowded Jerusalem bus stop in the northern neighborhood of French Hill on 22 September watched an 18-year-old shawled Palestinian woman approach, carrying a backpack. She was stopped by a guard at the nearby hitchhiking post and blew herself up when two security guards challenged her. The blast completely gutted the bus stop, sending chunks of human flesh flying and spraying shards of glass onto the busy road. The smell of burnt rubber and human flesh wafted in the air. Two guards died and 16 civilians were wounded. Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades claimed responsibility. 

The Jerusalem mayor urged the speed-up of the security fence around Jerusalem (by February 2005, only one quarter of the planned 64 km had been constructed). French Hill was adjacent to a gap in the fence, allowing bombers easy access to the city. In the previous two months, six bombings had been thwarted in Jerusalem. 


In Tel Aviv's Carmel market on the morning of 1 November 2004, a 16-year-old suicide bomber stopped at a cheese shop and detonated his explosives, killing three people and wounding more than 35. The bomber, from Nablus, had intended to attack in Jerusalem, but had turned to Tel Aviv instead. The five-kilogram bomb blew a hole in the market's tin roof and left body parts and produce mingled on the ground. The bombing was the fourteenth suicide bombing inside Israel since the beginning of 2004. 

After a temporary lull, on 25 February 2005, a 21-year-old male Islamic Jihad suicide bomber dressed as a 'clubber', and believed to have been dispatched by Islamic Jihad in Syria, detonated himself at 11 pm outside the Stage beachfront nightclub in Tel Aviv, killing four people and wounding fifty-three. The force of the blast ripped cars open like cans and sprayed the victims' blood onto the club's shattered facade. Local shopkeepers administered first aid, binding tourniquets around severed limbs, and ordering passers-by to talk to the badly wounded 'just to keep them alive'. 

Among the dead was a 28-year-old woman who had come to hand out invitations to her wedding, which was to take place in three weeks. The bomber was believed to have entered Israel through one of the dozens of agricultural gates that were built into the security fence for the use of Palestinian farmers. Palestinian security officials indicated that Hizbullah orchestrated the blast. This attack, the sixth attack in that part of Tel Aviv since the start of the Intifada, came less than three weeks after Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas had brokered a fragile ceasefire at Sharm e-Sheikh. 

Between January 2004 and February 2005, there were fifteen suicide bombings, in which fifty-seven people died and 343 were wounded. The smaller number of suicide bombings in 2005 is partly attributable to more effective defence measures, particularly the security fence. The number of bombings decreased from 60 in 2002 to 7 in 2005, and 450 additional suicide bombings were foiled. 


On 29 August 2005, the first suicide bombing since the Israeli pullout from the Gaza Strip took place in the desert city of Beersheva. A Fatah-Al Aqsa terrorist carrying a bomb detonated it in the bus station, wounding 48 people. On 26 October 2005, a bomber blew himself up at a fast-food stall in the coastal town of Hadera, killing five people. On 5 December 2005, a 24-year-old bomber from near Tulkarm was dropped off by a van, which then sped away. He blew himself up after an attempted arrest by a security guard, at a shopping mall in the coastal town of Netanya. Five people died and over 60 were wounded. It was the third suicide bombing outside that mall in four years. 

On 29 December, a terrorist blew himself up at an army checkpoint in the West Bank, killing one soldier and two Palestinians. On 19 January 2006, a bomber disguised as a peddler blew himself up near a fast-food stall in the old bus station in south Tel Aviv, wounding 30 people. 


Despite what was supposed to have been a relatively calm period, the bombers kept coming. For example, on 5 February 2006, it was reported that 12 suicide bombers had been intercepted (Debkafile). On 30 March 2006, a Fatah-Al Aqsa suicide bomber disguised as a hitchhiker blew himself up in a car, killing four Israelis who had stopped to pick him up near Kedumim in the northern West Bank. 

Eighteen days later, on 17 April, a fast-food stall in the old market in southern Tel Aviv was once again the easy target of bombers. As people queued to buy felafel, a Fatah-Islamic Jihad Bomber blew himself up, killing nine people, including a Romanian worker, and wounding 70 others, among them an American tourist. The same stall had been hit by a bomber three months previously. In that Tel Aviv neighbourhood of Neve Sha'anan, between January 2002 and January 2006, 29 people were killed and 255 wounded (the testimony of a wounded Filipino worker is included in this book). 

From 29 September 2000 to 17 April 2006, there were 147 suicide bombings in which 749 civilians were killed and 5,206 wounded (Israeli Defence Forces Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the CSS Center for Special Studies, Jan 2006). A deadly profile indeed.

749 civilians were killed & 5206 wounded in 147 suicide attacks 

from September 2000 to June 2006 


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