USA TODAY US Edition
Jerusalem blast stirs terror fears
Woman killed at bus stop in attack that rocks Israel
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.