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Jerrold Kessel: Heart of Tel Aviv hit

CNN's Jerrold Kessel
CNN's Jerrold Kessel

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CNN's Jerrold Kessel reports on a suicide blast on a bus in Tel Aviv, Israel, that killed at least five people and the bomber. (September 19)
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TEL AVIV, Israel (CNN) -- A suicide bomber set off a blast Thursday on a crowded city bus in downtown Tel Aviv, Israel, killing himself and five other people and wounding at least 60 others, police said.

CNN Correspondent Jerrold Kessel filed this report:

KESSEL: It is the second suicide bombing inside Israel in two days, this time in the heart of Tel Aviv, in a busy commercial shopping district -- a business district. You could say Allenby Street -- where the attack occurred -- is the equivalent of Main Street in any U.S. city.

The blast went off right in the heart of the town, one of the biggest roads running through the Tel Aviv metropolis. The wounded have all been ferried away to local hospitals by the security people, the ambulance people, the rescue workers. Then there is the grim task allotted to the special religious duties of those who come and pick up body parts -- bits of skin -- for burial along with the dead as required by Jewish law. Forensic experts are also on the scene.

The explosion took place just before 1 o'clock, during the lunchtime rush hour, with many people heading home for an afternoon break before going back to work, back to the shops and in the middle of the school day.

One of our CNN technical team happened to have been down there on his own, and he phoned in immediately, and he said, "Oh my goodness, there's a bus that's blown up right in front of me," and having done that he went to try to help with the casualties.

Israel is regretfully accustomed to this type of events, and they have to get to the scene quickly, and they are able. There is a fantastic array of relief services who react to such attacks, from the Red Star of David organization -- the equivalent of the Red Cross -- to the hospital standbys.

There is a number of hospitals not too far away. They were on the scene within literally five minutes, but even before that, people are trained. Many people who just happen to be in the area who have taken emergency medical courses often are on the scene treating the wounded, treating the casualties, trying to get some painful order into that painful and chaotic situation very, very quickly.

[Wednesday] there was the first attack by Palestinian suicide bombers inside Israel in six weeks. Israel says they have stopped many suicide bombers. But [Wednesday] there was an attempt, and a man was stopped at a bus stop, and it was believed he was trying to board a bus -- an inter-urban bus in Galilee. A policeman stopped him, and he blew himself up at that point.

But many of the suicide bombers have made attempts to get on the buses. There are searches. There are attempts to stop people with big parcels and examine them.

But of course that is a very difficult thing to do in a metropolis the size of Tel Aviv, with so many buses and so many people moving around the city at such a congested time as this.

Clearly, the people who were trying to do this were trying to achieve the maximum amount of casualties, the maximum damage.

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