Suicide bomber strikes Israeli bus – at least nine dead, dozens wounded. Hamas claims responsibility
A Palestinian suicide bomber struck an Israeli bus this morning, killing at least nine and wounding fifty-five. The public bus was on a route in Northern Israel when the explosion went off at 08:45AM local time.
Many of the passengers on the bus were soldiers headed to their army bases from weekend leave. Eyewitnesses said that the blast tore off the vehicle’s top and blasted its front windshield, sending it over 100 meters down the road. Israeli police reported that the suicide bomber carried a charge of some eight kilograms of explosives.
The Hamas military wing, the Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, announced their responsibility for the explosion, Hezbollah's Al-Manar television reported. They stated that a suicide bomber carried out the deadly attack.
The Hamas did not publish the suicide bomber’s name, apparently to avoid any harm to his family. Israel has recently begun taking punitive measures against the families of suicide bombers. Male relatives are being threatened with deportation from the West Bank to Gaza, and the houses of the families of suicide bombers are being destroyed. The Israeli army demolished eight Palestinian houses this morning as part of the new punitive policy.
Officials of the Palestinian Authority pointed out the Hamas attack was inevitable. The Palestinian Cabinet’s Secretary-General, Ahmad Abd Al-Rahman, told Israeli Radio that “the attack was to be expected, given the ongoing IDF terror against Palestinians”.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has convened a security meeting of the Israeli Cabinet in order to discuss extensive measures on Palestinians in an attempt to halt the attacks. Following this morning's blast, Sharon will most likely postpone meetings with Palestinian Authority officials, scheduled for later today. The bus explosion also took a toll on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, sending stocks down two percent at the burse's opening.
Rescue teams were operating at the scene less than 10 minutes from the blast, evacuating the injured to three hospitals in nearby Safed, Tiberius and Haifa. Police forces have blocked off traffic at all nearby junctions. (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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