Palestinian Terrorist Posing as a Passenger
Blows up City Bus


Young Israelis light candles at a makeshift memorial on the site where sixteen people were killed yesterday when a Palestinian bomber blew up a bus full of passengers, in Haifa March 6, 2003. Three students from the nearby high school were among the dead.

Nir Elias / Reuters

Several high school students were traveling on a city bus last Wednesday afternoon in the Carmeliya neighborhood of Haifa when a powerful explosion ripped apart the students and others passengers on the bus. A terrorist blended in with the other passengers on the bus and had been sitting in the rear of the bus when he ignited a bomb he had that murdered 16 people and wounded more than 50, at least 22 of them seriously.

The blast, which took place on the city’s main Moriah Boulevard near the Carmel Center at 2:17 P.M on Wednesday, turned the number 37 bus into a charred wreck and scattered bodies along the road.

Police said the bomb was "medium-sized," laden with metal shrapnel and strapped to the bomber’s body. Homocide bombers often add nails and bolts to the explosive devices, in order to maximize the number of injuries. Northern District Commander Yaakov Borovsky estimated that the bomber did not get on the bus at the last possible stop before the blast. Police are also trying to find out who transported the bomber to the location of the attack, and said that there had not been any specific warnings of an attack in the Haifa area.

The director of Rambam Medical Center said that among the wounded it was treating were five people in serious or critical condition; three other people died of their wounds shortly after arrival at the hospital. Carmel Medical Center said that it was treating 23 people, including five in serious condition. A total of 16 have now died from the terror attack on the bus.

The blast follows a two-month lull in Palestinian terrorist bombings. The last such attack took place in January when 23 people were killed in a neighborhood in Tel Aviv in a double homicide bombing. But security officials had warned in recent days that they faced 50 active warnings of planned and impending attacks. Security sources said that more than 40 attacks had been foiled during the month of February alone.

Israel said that it would respond to the attack, but not at a scale that would disrupt any U.S. preparations for a possible attack on Iraq.

Hamas lauds attack; PMO blames Arafat

Abdel Aziz Rantisi, a spokesman for Hamas who is based in the Gaza Strip, 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 Prime Minister’s Office said that it held Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat responsible for the attack, which comes only days after the establishment of a new rightist government under Ariel Sharon. David Baker, an official in the Prime Minister’s Office, told Haaretz that, "The attack in Haifa is yet another Palestinian bloodletting of innocent Israeli civilians. Israel will not tolerate this terror, and will continue to take the necessary steps to eradicate it."

Bush: Terrorists will not prevail

U.S. President George W. Bush denounced the suicide attack, saying terrorists would not prevail in the region. "The president condemns in the strongest terms today’s attack on innocents in Israel," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said. "The message to the terrorists is their efforts will not be successful. We will continue to pursue the path of peace in the Middle East, and he [Bush] urges all to condemn today’s attack," Fleischer said.

United Nations Middle East envoy Terje Roed-Larsen condemned the attack as "a horrible act of terrorism." He told Israel Radio that the only way to characterize the attack was as "a cynical act of pre-mediated murder and nothing else," which served "no political purpose." France, Britain, Germany and Russia also condemned the attack in the strongest terms, IDF Army Radio reported.