The Maxim Restaurant Suicide Bombing

The Maxim restaurant in 2009
The Maxim restaurant in 2009

The Maxim restaurant suicide bombing was a suicide bombing which occurred on October 4, 2003 in the beachfront “Maxim” restaurant in Haifa, Israel. 21 people were killed in the attack and 51 were injured. Among the victims were two families and four children, including a two-month-old baby.

The restaurant, which is located at the seafront near the southern boundary of the city of Haifa, was frequently attended by both Arab and Jewish local populations, and was widely seen as a symbol of peaceful coexistence in Haifa.

Militant organization Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack. It was condemned by Palestinian President Yasser Arafat. The restaurant’s interior was destroyed by the blast (it was completely rebuilt seven months after the attack).

Background

The Maxim restaurant is a beachfront restaurant located near the south entry to Haifa. It is co-owned by Jews and Christian Arabs, and is known for being a symbol of co-existence. The restaurant is also the favorite dining place of the famous Israeli football club Maccabi Haifa.

The attack

On October 4, 2003, the 28-year-old Palestinian suicide bomber Hanadi Jaradat detonated the explosive belt she was wearing inside the Arab-Jewish Maxim restaurant in Haifa. 21 Israelis (18 Jews and 3 Arabs) were killed, and 51 others were wounded. The bomb included metal fragments packed around the explosive core, that sprayed around the restaurant, maximizing lethal effect. According to Haifa police sources, the aftermath was gruesome, with some of the dead still sitting upright at their tables, while others, including children and babies, were slammed against the walls. Due to the force of the explosion, all that remained of Jaradat was her head.

Oran Almog, who was ten years old at time of the bombing, was blinded by the blast, lost two of his grandparents, his father, his brother and his cousin.
Oran Almog, who was ten years old at time of the bombing, was blinded by the blast, lost two of his grandparents, his father, his brother and his cousin.

Among the victims were two families and four children, including a two-month-old baby. Three Maccabi Haifa officials were lightly injured in the bombing.

– Fatalities

Five members of the Almog family:

  • Admiral of Israeli navy (res.) Ze’ev Almog, 71, of Haifa
  • Ruth Almog, 70, of Haifa
  • Moshe Almog, 43, of Haifa
  • Tomer Almog, 9, of Haifa
  • Assaf Staier, 11, of Haifa

Five members of the Zer-Aviv family:

  • Brurua Zer-Aviv, 59, of Kibbutz Yagur
  • Bezalel Zer-Aviv, 30, of Kibbutz Yagur
  • Keren Zer-Aviv, 29, of Kibbutz Yagur
  • Liran Zer-Aviv, 4, of Kibbutz Yagur
  • Noya Zer-Aviv, 1, of Kibbutz Yagur
  • Nir Regev, 25, of Nahariya
  • Zvi Bahat, 35, of Haifa
  • Mark Biano, 29, of Haifa
  • Naomi Biano, 25, of Haifa
  • Hana Francis, 39, of Fassuta, head waiter.
  • Sharbal Matar, 23, of Fassuta, waiter
  • Mutanus Karkabi, 31, of Haifa, security guard
  • Osama Najar, 28, of Haifa, cook
  • Irena Sofrin, 38, of Kiryat Bialik
  • Lydia Zilberstein, 56, of Haifa, died of her injuries on October 9
  • George Matar, 58, of Haifa, died of his injuries on October 15

The perpetrator

The suicide bomber, 28-year-old Hanadi Jaradat from Jenin, (Arabic: هنادي تيسير عبدالمالك جردات‎‎) was the sixth female suicide bomber of the Al-Aqsa Intifada and the second woman recruited by Islamic Jihad.

Hanadi Jaradat
Hanadi Jaradat

When she was 21, her fiancé had been killed by Israeli security forces. At the time of her suicide bombing, Jaradat was a law student due to qualify as a lawyer in a few weeks. According to a story in Ha’aretz, based on Arab media and interviews with Israeli and Arab sources, she agreed to the bombing after Israel Defense Forces undercover operatives in Jenin killed her cousin (Salah, 34), and her younger brother (Fadi, 25), both of whom were accused by Israeli forces of being Islamic Jihad operatives, with her cousin being considered to be a senior member of the Al-Quds Brigades group.

Israeli response

The day following the suicide bombing, the Israeli Army demolished the home of Jaradat’s family, and the homes of two neighbors who were uninvolved in the bombing. In response to the attack, which Israel claimed was planned in the Damascus headquarters of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, an alleged terrorist training camp in Ain es-Saheb, Syria, was bombed by four Israeli Air Force jets. One person was injured, and munitions were allegedly destroyed during the strike.

Jamal Mahadjne, an Israeli-Arab from Umm al-Fahm, was arrested within hours of the attack for driving Jaradat to her destination. Mahadjne had regularly taken fees for illegally driving Palestinians to Israel, taking advantage of his Israeli identity card to cross the border without difficulty. He confessed his actions to Shin Bet agents, and was indicted before the Haifa District Court for being an accessory to murder and for other crimes relating to his illegal activities on November 10.

On November 7, Israel Defense Forces troops arrested senior Islamic Jihad militant Amjad Abeidi, who planned the attack, along with a number of other suicide bombings, during an operation in Jenin. During the operation, Jenin was placed under curfew as soldiers searched homes. One Palestinian teenager was shot dead while climbing a tank, and three Palestinians were wounded. The complex in which Abeidi was hiding was located and searched, and a weapons cache was found. After a grenade was thrown into the cache, Abeidi was lightly wounded and surrendered. As the soldiers left Jenin with Abeidi, Palestinian militants opened fire at them, and the soldiers returned fire. One militant, a member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, was killed. Abeidi was handed over to Shin Bet for interrogation.

Official reactions

– Involved parties

  • Israel: Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon stated that Israel holds Yasser Arafat responsible for the attack.

  • Palestinian territories: Palestinian President Yasser Arafat condemned the suicide bombing.

– International

  • United States: U.S. President George W. Bush condemned the attack stating “I condemn unequivocally the vicious act of terrorism committed today in Haifa. This murderous action, aimed at families gathered to enjoy a Sabbath lunch, killed and injured dozens of men, women, and children. This despicable attack underscores once again the responsibility of Palestinian authorities to fight terror, which remains the foremost obstacle to achieving the vision of two states living side by side in peace and security.”

Aftermath

In response to his daughter’s actions, her father Taisir declined all condolences, instead saying that he was proud of what his daughter had done, and that “I will accept only congratulations for what she did. This was a gift she gave me, the homeland and the Palestinian people.”

The memorial built near the restaurant, in memory of the victims of the attack.
The memorial built near the restaurant, in memory of the victims of the attack.

In October 2012, the Arab Lawyers Union awarded their top award to Hanadi Jaradat, and sent a delegation to her family to present them with the award. Ayman Abu Eisheh, who is a member of the Palestine Committee at the Arab Lawyers Union, explained that the lawyers were proud of Jaradat, saying that suicide bombing was “in defense of Palestine and the Arab nation.”

Although the interior of the restaurant was destroyed in the attack, it was quickly rebuilt and reopened within several months.

A monument was erected near the restaurant in memory of the victims killed in the attack.

Source

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