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Fionnuala Sweeney on the scene of the Hadera bombing

Fionnuala Sweeney
Fionnuala Sweeney  

Fionnuala Sweeney is in Hadera, Israel, where a car filled with explosives blew up next to a crowded bus, killing at least two Israelis and wounding more than 50 people on Wednesday.

Q: Describe the scene in Hadera in the hours after the blast.

Sweeney: Most of the main streets were cordoned off, but there was a highly frenzied activity as police and forensic experts sifted through the scene. There was a bus which was badly damaged -- it had taken the full force of the blast when it passed a car which police believe contained the explosives. The bus was flung some 50 feet or so into the front window of a bakery shop.

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The road around it, the area around it was littered with broken glass, rubble. You could see shoes, you could see grapes where people had obviously been taking their shopping home with them. Forensic experts were sifting through all of this, including what little remained of the car in which they believe the explosives were held.

Q: Is there any information as to what police have found in their investigation?

Sweeney: No, the police in Hadera weren't saying very much. They were literally just towing away what remained of the car in which they believe the bomb was placed. They were refusing to say whether there had been people in the car when it detonated. But what is thought is that it was pretty accurate in terms of timing. This bus was passing by, it was evening rush hour and the bus was packed with people. It was pulling up to a bus stop when it passed this car and the bomb detonated.

Q: What was the mood of spectators standing around the scene?

Sweeney: They were angry. This was not the first time they've had an explosion. Indeed, in 1994, they experienced two suicide bombers going on a bus in the central bus station in Hadera packed with explosives, and five people were killed in that explosion.

They were very angry, periodically chanting, "Death to Arabs," blaming [Palestinian Authority President] Yasser Arafat for this bombing, believing he is responsible because he released a number of Islamic Jihad and Hamas prisoners a number of weeks ago. The Palestinian Authority says that these people who were in jail, were in jail for crimes against the Palestinian Authority and not Israel, but this wasn't going down with the people in Hadera at all this evening.

They were also saying that Prime Minister Ehud Barak should take much tougher action against those responsible for these blasts.

Q: Is it unusual to hear strong comments like that from a place like Hadera?

Sweeney: I think what you have is an indication of the Israeli mindset inside the conflict zone. The mindset is hardening with each violent act that is committed.

Q: Are the people encouraging another Israeli military retaliation against the Palestinians?

Sweeney: The people believe that Barak needs to do more to protect their security and do whatever it takes that is necessary. One person actually said that Yasser Arafat should be shot. The feelings are really pretty high on the ground in regards to this, and they believe that Ehud Barak should be taking stronger military action.

Q: Have you heard anything from the Palestinian side?

Sweeney: I believe that the Palestinian Authority has denied they had anything to do with it. They say that this is a strike that was undertaken in Israel and not in the West Bank or Gaza.



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Israel threatens retaliation for soldier's death
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Arafat: 'Exerting every effort' to end violence
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U.S. pushes for diplomatic end to Mideast fighting
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RELATED SITES:
Israel Defense Forces
Palestinian National Authority
Israeli Government

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