The 2002 French Hill Suicide Bombing

French Hill, 2007.
French Hill, 2007.

The 2002 French hill suicide bombing was a suicide bombing which occurred on June 19, 2002 in a crowded bus stop and hitchhiking post at the French Hill neighborhood in northeastern Jerusalem. The site of the attack was chosen in order to cause maximum number of casualties. 7 people were killed in the attack, and 35 were injured.

The Palestinian militant group Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack.

The attack took place only a day after the deadliest bombing attack in Jerusalem in six years occurred in which a Palestinian suicide bomber killed 19 people on a crowded bus in southern Jerusalem. According to the Daily Telegraph, both of the attacks were timed to disrupt an expected announcement by U.S. President George W. Bush regarding a future Palestinian state, and Bush did in fact delay his speech.

The attack

On Wednesday, shortly after 7:05 pm, a Palestinian suicide bomber got out of a red Audi vehicle next to a bus station in Jerusalem’s French Hill neighborhood.

Because the bus stop was targeted by assailants in the past, the bus stop was heavily guarded. Two Border Police patrolmen, whom were securing the site, chased him to tried to stop the suspect but the suicide bomber managed to run past them straight into the middle of a crowd of people waiting for the bus in one of the busiest bus stops in Israel. The suicide bomber detonated the explosive device that he was holding in a bag, killing seven people. About 50 additional people were injured in from the force of the blast and from by shrapnel that was packed around the explosive device. Eight of the wounded sustained severe injuries.

The force of the blast completely destroyed the bus station, which was made of concrete, and many body parts were scattered over a large area throughout the street near the bus station. Later, a bulldozer dismantled what was left from the concrete bus station.

The two Border Police patrolmen at the scene were wounded in the attack, one of them seriously.

The perpetrators

Shortly after the attack, the Palestinians militant group Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, who publicly identifies itself as the military wing of Fatah (led by Yasser Arafat), claimed responsibility for the attack during a broadcast on the Lebanese television.

Aftermath

According to the Daily Telegraph, both of the attacks which were carried out in Jerusalem on the 18th and 19 June 2002 were timed to disrupt an expected announcement by U.S. President George W. Bush regarding a future Palestinian state, provided that the Palestinian Authority first met a series of strict condition. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer stated that Bush would delay the plan as such because “It’s obvious that the immediate aftermath is not the right time”

– Israeli response

In response to the attack, three hours after the attack took place, Israeli Air Force helicopters fired rockets at metal workshops in the Gaza Strip which were used to manufacture weapons. According to Reuters, at least five rockets were shot in Gaza City and Khan Yunis.

Official reactions

– Involved parties

Israel:

  • Israeli government spokesman Arye Mekel referred to the attack noting that “It is another carnage, another brutal attack on innocent people who were standing, waiting for a bus”.

Palestinian territories:

  • The Palestinian Authority condemned the attack. An official statement issued said, the PA “reiterates its condemnation and denunciation” of “all operations against Israeli civilians”

  • Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat released the statement after the attack, which he wrote in Arabic, in which he called on Palestinians to completely stop attacks against Israelis, noting that “Targeting civilians, whether they are Israelis or Palestinians, is a deplorable act” and noting that these attacks are not a “legitimate resistance” to Israeli occupation and that Israel uses them as an excuse to invade the Palestinian territories.

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