7 killed by bomb blasts in Jerusalem
Leaflet at scene says Hamas responsible
September 4, 1997
Web posted at: 10:02 p.m. EDT (0202 GMT)
JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Seven people, including three girls, were
killed and nearly 200 other people were injured when three
nail-laden bombs rocked a pedestrian mall in downtown
The blasts were set off by three suicide bombers, who were
among the dead. The other victims included three girls, aged
12, 14 and 15, and an unidentified man.
A leaflet left at the scene claimed that the bombers were
Islamic militants from the group Hamas and said more bombs
would be set off if Israel does not free Palestinian
prisoners it holds.
In response to the bombing, the Israeli government reimposed
a total closure on the West Bank and Gaza Strip, preventing
Palestinians from entering Israel.
Netanyahu puts blame on Arafat
An angry Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu laid blame
for the attack at the feet of Palestinian Authority President
"Arafat personally hugs and kisses the Hamas leaders, and his
security chief proclaims, as he did the other day, (that)
we're all part of the same struggle," Netanyahu said. "What
struggle? The struggle to blow up women and children and
Shocked Palestinian officials vigorously condemned the attack
and promised to work to undercut the bombers.
"We are ready to cooperate with the Israeli authorities to
find the persons who stand behind these operations, and we
are ready for complete cooperation," said Palestinian cabinet
secretary Ahmad Abdul Rahman.
But the cabinet secretary said the Israeli decision to seal
off the West Bank and Gaza "will not stop terrorism."
"Peace will stop terrorism," he said.
Witness: Victims flew through the air
Hundreds of people were packed into the Ben Yehuda Street mall at about 3 p.m. local time (8 a.m. EDT) when the
explosions went off, Israel radio reported.
Impact on peace process:
||Correspondent Jerrold Kessel
reports from Jerusalem
352K/30 sec. AIFF or WAV sound
||Palestinian Cabinet member Hanan Ashrawi: "Atmosphere of violence, instability ..."
352K/30 sec. AIFF or WAV sound
||Netanyahu adviser David Bar-Illan: "Mr. Arafat has decided to make peace with the terrorists ..."
256K/21 sec. AIFF or WAV sound
An eyewitness describes the blasts
||320K/30 sec. AIFF or WAV sound
"It literally destroyed the center of the mall," said Pierre
Klochendler, a CNN producer at the scene.
The blasts shattered windows, knocked over cafe chairs and
ripped down awnings along the wide pedestrian walkway. Blood
spattered the pavement and rescue workers rushed victims
away on stretchers. Body parts were covered by sheets.
A security guard, who identified himself only as Yaakov, said
he saw "people fly through the air."
Police sealed off the area shortly after the blast, fearing
more explosions could go off.
"I was standing near the Mashbir department store, and
suddenly I heard two huge explosions," said shopper Etti
Harel. "A cloud of black smoke went up to the top stories. It
Israeli police believe the bombers set off their lethal
charges -- consisting of two to three kilograms (about 5
pounds) of explosives -- within seconds of each other after
making eye contact. One was disguised as an old man and
another as a woman, police said.
Police sources told CNN that the three bombs appeared to be
less powerful than two bombs that rocked an open market in
Jerusalem on July 30, killing 15 Israelis.
Albright trip will go forward
The blasts came a week before U.S. Secretary of State
Madeleine Albright was to visit the Middle East in hopes of
putting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process back on track.
Speaking in Prague, Czech Republic, where she is on a private
vacation, Albright said her trip will proceed as scheduled
because "we cannot give in to terror."
Albright offered her "heartfelt prayers and sympathies" to
Netanyahu by phone and called on Palestinian officials to do
more to combat terrorism.
"Fighting terror is a 24-hour-a-day job. Security cooperation
must be accompanied by unilateral Palestinian action to
pre-empt terror," Albright said.
Late Thursday, Palestinian authorities detained two Hamas
political leaders in the West Bank, arrested eight activists
and shut down a Hamas newspaper in Gaza, Palestinian security
sources said. But that fell far short of the crackdown Israel
Correspondent Jerrold Kessel and Reuters contributed to this report.