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Suicide Bus Bombing Kills 15 in Israel

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
HAIFA, Israel - A suicide bomber blew himself up aboard a crowded bus in the northern city of Haifa on Wednesday, killing at least 15 people and injuring dozens in the first suicide bombing in Israel in two months, officials said.

The powerful bomb ripped off the roof of the No. 37 bus, strewing wreckage and body parts across the street. Police said the suicide bomber detonated explosives that were strapped to his body.

The bus, packed with students from the nearby University of Haifa, had just stopped in the hilltop neighborhood Carmelia at about 2:17 p.m. Because of the hour, officials said.

The driver, Marwan Damouni, told Army Radio the bus exploded as he opened the doors to let passengers off.

"I suddenly heard an explosion, " said Damouni, who was being treated at Carmel Hospital. "I tried to move, to see if there were wounded ... I couldn't hear anything because of the force of the blast."

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, which comes as Israel's new hardline government is pressing ahead with a two-week-old offensive against Hamas militants in Gaza, and as the Palestinian Authority (news - web sites) is considering far-reaching reforms.

President Bush (news - web sites) denounced the suicide attack. "The president condemns in the strongest terms today's attack on innocents in Israel," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer (news - web sites) said. "His message to terrorists is that their efforts will not be successful."

In the past Israel has reacted with tough military measures after such attacks and has blamed Yasser Arafat (news - web sites), saying the Palestinian Authority does nothing to prevent terrorism.

"Once again the bestial hand of Palestinian terrorism has struck at the heart of Israel," said Mark Sofer, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, adding that in the past two months Israeli forces had thwarted almost 100 attempted attacks.

Palestinian Cabinet minister Saeb Erekat condemned "any attack that is targeting civilians, whether Palestinian or Israeli. But he added: "We reject the Israel government finger-pointing that the Palestinian Authority is responsible."

Haifa police chief Yaacov Borovsky said the explosion was caused by a suicide bomber. At least 10 people died at the scene and five others died at the hospital, police and rescue officials said. Dozens were seriously injured.

Police said the bomb was "medium-sized," laden with metal shrapnel and strapped to the bomber's body. The blast damaged cars as far as 30 yards away, toppled palm trees and left the bus a skeleton of charred and twisted metal.

Avi Zohar, a rescues services spokesman, said there were "dozens of casualties, among them at least two dozen seriously injured. Some of the wounded were being treated at the scene, and others were evacuated.

"I suddenly heard a huge explosion and all the lights in my beauty parlor broke," said beautician Ronen Levy. "I am still in shock."

Ovadia Saar, who was driving another bus just behind the one that was attacked, said he saw "the back of the bus fly into the air, and the windows blew out and a great cloud of dust covered the bus."

"I got out and ran toward the bus. It was a horrible sight. There were a few bodies in the street," he said. "Those we saw breathing we evacuated."

Israeli police went on alert throughout the country amid warnings that more attacks were planned, reports said.

The Haifa blast was the first terror attack in Israel since Jan. 5, when a pair of suicide bombers killed 23 people in Tel Aviv.

Abdel Aziz Rantisi, a spokesman for the Islamic militant Hamas, praised the attack but did not claim responsibility. "We will not stop our resistance," he said. "We are not going to give up in the face of the daily killing" of Palestinians.

The attack comes days after the establishment of a new, right-wing government in Israel. Some of the key Cabinet ministers have in the past called for Arafat's expulsion.

It also coincides with a two-week-old Israeli military offensive against Hamas strongholds in the Gaza Strip (news - web sites) in which dozens of Palestinians have been killed, including some civilians.

Arafat, meanwhile, is considering appointing a prime minister in coming days — a move that has been demanded by the United States and Israel as a means of sidelining the veteran Palestinian leader.

"We are facing a (Palestinian) leadership which at best is unwilling to act, and at worst is actually complicit in many of the terrorist activities that we see," Sofer said. "What we see is terror, slaughter of innocent children, people going about their daily lives."

Earlier Wednesday, Israeli soldiers demolished the home of a suspected suicide bomber in the West Bank and removed the remains of a neighborhood mosque on the Gaza-Egypt border.

Soldiers leveled the home of suicide bomber Ashraf Saed in the West Bank town of Nablus, leaving nine homeless, the army said. Saed died in an Aug. 8 attack that injured an Israeli soldier at a West Bank checkpoint.

In the Rafah refugee camp in Gaza, meanwhile, troops knocked down a neighborhood mosque that had been seriously damaged in previous strikes.

The U.S. government protested the intensifying Israeli operations, which have led to several civilian casualties.

"We have concerns about actions that go beyond and that bring harm to the innocent, including innocent Palestinians," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said on Monday.

Israel stepped up its raids into Gaza after a Feb. 15 attack, in which a bomb blew apart an Israeli tank, killing four soldiers. Hamas claimed responsibility for the bombing.

post #2 of 13
Thread Starter 
post #3 of 13
that is just too awful.
post #4 of 13
very very sad.

I pray for your safety everyday Anne.
post #5 of 13
Oh my . Not again.

I am sending comfort to the friends and family touched by the bombing.
post #6 of 13
just awful.
post #7 of 13
My prayers extend to the families of those affected. We are always very watchful of terrorist incidents in Israel because hubby lived there for many years. Now, of course, I always worry about Anne.

post #8 of 13
When will it all just stop!!,Anne prayer for you & your family's safey,and prayers for all the people who have died and here familys.
post #9 of 13
The other night I was chatting with Anne on MSN and all of sudden she typed ":censor::censor::censor::censor: WHAT A LOUD EXPLOSION!" No sirens went off, but I waited with baited breath as she went in to check on the baby and also call her husband to find out if he was safe, and to reassure him that she was. She never did hear what it was and told me later it must have been the police detonating a suspicious parcel. I can't imagine living with terror so close to your door.
post #10 of 13
Me either! Poor Anne& her family.What a life.
post #11 of 13
I can't imagine how hard it must be to have to live in fear in a place that you love. Keep safe Anne!
post #12 of 13
Thanks everyone!

Yeterday's blast was bad - if you read Lizza's post you probably know more about it then I do. I try to stay away from those news reports. We've had a relatively peaceful couple of months, I do hope the nightmare is not starting all over again...

War is a horrible thing. I always think about the poor people on the other side. Many Palestinians don't even have the privilage of going out - I can't imagine what it must be like being a Palestinian family living in the territories I just wish the leaders on both sides would sober up and put an end to the violence...
post #13 of 13
anne, can i ask, what is the war between israel and palestine all about? i dont think i ever learned why. i hope you dont mind me asking.
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