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At Least 21 Dead in Jerusalem Bus Bombing

By VOA News, & Ha'aretz

A suicide bombing on a Number 2 bus in Jerusalem has killed at least 21 people and wounded at least 100 others, including approximately 40 children. Police said the explosion at about 9 p.m. Tuesday ripped apart the bus in the center of Jerusalem. The explosion occured in the Shmuel Hanavi neighborhood of the capital, close to French Hill.

The terrorist group Islamic Jihad's al-Quds Brigades originally claimed responsibility for the attack,. Hamas also claimed responsibility. But earlier one of the movement's leaders, Abdel Aziz Rantisi, said Hamas was not involved. Rantisi said the attack does not mean an end to the ceasefire announced by militant groups in late June. However, Israeli sources reported the bomber was affiliated with Hamas, not Islamic Jihad as reported by Hizbullah TV.

Most of the people on the bus, which was travelling from the Western Wall to the religious neighborhood, were ultra-Orthodox Jews, Channel One Television reported. Reuters journalist Barry Moody said from the scene that two buses were hit by the blast. He said one - on which the suicide bomber is thought to have set off his explosive device - was completely devastated, while the other - travelling behind - had its windows blown out.

ZAKA emergency services leader Yehuda Meshi-Zahav said that he was among the first people on the scene, and saw a "pile of dead and wounded." He said that he picked his way through the bodies, checking which of them had a pulse, until he found a baby that he estimated at three months old, "crying but whole." He and other eyewitnesses said they had rarely if ever seen such a horrendous attack.

The terrorist detonated himself in between the two parts of the accordion bus as it was driving to the Geulah neighborhood, the Central Bus Station area, and then Har Nof. Pinchas Kramer of Bnei Brak said that his son was attending a Bar Mitzvah nearby when the blast occurred. "My son's classmates tried to board the bus that later blew up, but it was too crowded and the driver did not even open the doors for them. This saved their lives."

A videotape released by Hamas in Hebron showed a man who named himself as Raed Abdel-Hamid Masq , 29, and said he would carry out the suicide bombing to avenge Israel's killing of one of the group's members. He was dressed as an Orthodox Jew, based on statements provided by survivors.

The White House condemned the attack as a vicious act and called on the Palestinian Authority to dismantle terrorist organizations. "We condemn this act of terrorism in the strongest possible terms," White House spokesman Sean McCormack said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims and the victims."

Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas also denounced the blast. "We strongly condemn the attack and we are completely against putting the lives of civilians into danger," said Palestinian Minister of Information Nabil Amr.

Following the blast, Israel called off a meeting planned for Tuesday with Palestinian security officials to discuss the possible handover of security for two Palestinian towns. One of the conditions for an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank towns of Qalqilyah and Jericho was that there be no terror attacks. Israel has said it would not agree to the transfer of the towns until the Palestinian Authority made a commitment to dismantle militant groups.

The Sharon government also wants Palestinian security forces to monitor the movements of wanted militants so they cannot carry out terror activities.The Palestinians want a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from the two towns, including the removal of nearby checkpoints.

U.S. Consulate Drivers Claim More Than Right Of Way


Drivers for the American Consulate in Jerusalem - virtually all of whom are Arabs - have been instructed by their employers to sideswipe cars that try to cut in between them. A Beit El resident reported that he was intentionally hit two weeks ago by an American Consulate driver when he tried to pass him and merge into traffic behind another Consulate vehicle.

The Israeli filed a complaint with the police - and later learned that the offending driver also showed up at the police station and explained that he had purposely caused the crash. The latter said that he did so at the express orders of his employers, who, for reasons of security, do not want "foreign" cars amidst their convoys.

Yusuf Dahdal, in charge of the drivers in the Consulate, confirmed this. Speaking with Arutz-7, he said, "We have a procedure that we do not allow drivers to come in between the cars of our convoy." The police say that the matter is no longer being investigated as a traffic accident, but rather as a purposeful criminal incident. Arutz-7's Yigal Shok noted, however, that the Arab driver may have diplomatic immunity as an employee of the American consulate.

Col. (res.) Moshe Leshem, author of the Hebrew version of a how-to-defend-against-terrorism book called "Survival," told Arutz-7: "Why are you so surprised? The Americans act here as if they are the rulers and we are their subjects. In addition, don't expect the police to really investigate...

However, now that I have finished with my cynicism, let me say the following: This cautionary procedure by the Americans has much logic. There is truly a danger that someone who wished to attack them could do so, and therefore they cannot allow someone to drive in between them. We suffered the same in Lebanon... The normal way to go about this, however, is for them to receive official permission, and to alert the public so that people can know in advance and not endanger themselves by performing what they think is an innocent pass on the highway."

Israeli Pilot's Helmet Found in Iraq


Thirty-six years after four Israeli air force pilots were shot down while on a flight mission in Iraq during the Six Day War, a helmet that may have belonged to one of the men, and which was on display in a Baghdad museum, was returned to Israel, Yediot Achronot reported.

On the third day of the Six Day War, June 7, 1967, Iraqi military forces shot down the planes of pilots Shlomo Keren, Alexander Metzger, Yitzhak Glanz and Gideon Dror while on a mission in Iraq. Keren and Metzger were killed while Glanz and Dror were captured and later released. The Air Force is investigating if the helmet discovered in the Baghdad museum belonged to one of the men.

U.S. military forces discovered the helmet next to a scrap of metal bearing the traditional blue Star of David insignia of the Israeli air force which may have been a piece of wreckage from one of the planes. The interior of the helmet displayed a sticker reading: "Pilot Helmet Model HGU/2A-P; Manufactured: 1966; Size: Large; Number 16631; Oz Plastics, Azor Industrial Area." It is thought that the Iraqis exhibited the helmet as example of war plunder after defeating the Israeli pilots.

The helmet was transferred through the Israeli embassy in Jordan and when it arrived at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem, it created a lot of excitement. "Holding something like this in your hands makes you shiver. You can actually see the blood stains," said a senior official. The helmet was then forwarded to the Ministry of Defense in Tel-Aviv and from there it will be transferred to the Missing In Action section of the Air Force to try to reveal the helmet's true owner.

The four pilots had been dispatched to attack the Iraqi air force base H-3 in western Iraq after Israeli intelligence learned that the Egyptians had asked the Iraqis to attack IDF bases in Ramat David and Hatzor. Four "Miraz" planes from the Air Force's first jet squadron escorted four "Wotor" planes from the "Northern Knights" squadron. Jordanian radar discovered the planes en route and alerted Iraqi forces. Iraqi "Hunter" planes awaited the Israeli aircraft and managed to severely disrupt the attack, shooting down two "Wotor" planes and one "Miraz" fighter.

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