Jerusalem blast stirs terror fears

Woman killed at bus stop in attack that rocks Israel

- By Michele Chabin Special for USA TODAY

JERUSALEM — For Israelis, Wednesday’s bombing at a crowded Jerusalem bus stop stirred up painful memories of past terror attacks and fears that the Palestinia­ns may be resuming bombings.

The explosion — the first bombing in six years — killed a 60-year-old woman and injured more than 30 other people. There was no claim of responsibi­lity, but Israel blamed Palestinia­n terrorists.

The bombwent off next to a food stand and blew out the windows of two crowded buses. Jerusalem’s police chief, Aharon Franco, said the bomb had been placed in a small bag at a phone booth on the sidewalk.

Terrorist attacks reached their height during the first and second Palestinia­n uprisings, when hundreds of Israelis were killed by Palestinia­n suicide bombers. The attacks all but disappeare­d in recent years after Israel completed a security fence that prevents Palestinia­ns from crossing the border except at checkpoint­s.

Residents of Jerusalem knew something was wrong when dozens of ambulances, their sirens wailing, headed to the scene near the entrance to Jerusalem. Police cordoned off the area, halting traffic on the busy Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway.

Laura Kam had just gotten into a taxi when she was shaken by a “tremendous­ly loud explosion.”

“For anybody in Jerusalem, the first thing that comes to mind is a terror attack. The minute the sirens started blaring, we knew.”

Having lived through the first Palestinia­n uprisings, “the thought of going through this again is an absolute nightmare,” Kamsaid.

Efraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, attributed “great importance” to the timing of the attacks.

“I think the Palestinia­ns definitely want to divert attention to the Palestinia­n cause, which has been eclipsed for a while by other events in the Middle East,” Inbar said of the uprisings in Egypt, Yemen, Libya and elsewhere.

“Of course the motivation to kill Jews is there all the time,” Inbar said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu canceled a scheduled trip to Moscow to handle events at home. Palestinia­n Prime Minister Salam Fayyad denounced the bombing in “the strongest terms.”

The Popular Resistance Committees, a Gaza terrorist group, cheered the bombing, calling it a “natural response to the enemy’s crimes.”

The Jerusalem bombing comes at a time of escalating Palestinia­n-Israeli violence, the worst since Israel’s incursion into Gaza in December 2008.

Two weeks ago, a rabbi, his wife and their three sons, ages 11, 4 and 3 months, were killed with knives in their beds in a West Bank town. The footprints of the attackers led back to a Palestinia­n village.

Militants in Gaza, which is ruled by the antiIsrael Hamas, have fired dozens of rockets into southern Israel in recent days. Israeli jets retaliated by striking a car carrying members of Islamic jihad, but a stray Israeli mortar killed three Palestinia­n youths and a 60-year-old man.

 ?? By Jack Guez, AFP/Getty Images ?? More than 30 wounded: Israeli paramedics inspect the site of a fatal bombing on Wednesday.
By Jack Guez, AFP/Getty Images More than 30 wounded: Israeli paramedics inspect the site of a fatal bombing on Wednesday.

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