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October 25, 2002

Palestinian Attackers Put Israeli Buses on Front Line of Mideast Battle

An earlier post at this sitenoted how it is the poor who must use busses. Here, additional discussion of buses as targets.
KIRYAT ATA, Israel Oct. 25 — Behind a garage, buses splintered by suicide bombers are lined up, a row of crumpled tombs. Ghosts seem to linger, as if still sitting in the shredded seats.

Mechanics sift through the latest wreckage in this junk yard, finding a charred Bible, a melted comb and a camera beside bus No. 841 a blackened metal skeleton where 14 people died, torn and burnt, on Monday.

"They are pieces of lives," said mechanic Avraham Weinberg, holding a young woman's burnt job resume. He hopes to return it to her family.

Palestinian militants have put drivers and passengers on the front line in two years of battles following collapsed peace talks. Eighteen shooting and bombing attacks on buses have killed 120 people. In June, the militant Hamas group declared a "war on the buses."

In Monday's attack, two teenage Palestinians sent by the Islamic Jihad group rammed a car packed with about 220 pounds of explosives into the back of the bus, igniting the fuel tank and setting a roaring fire that charred bodies.

In a similar attack June 5, an Islamic Jihad bomber in an explosives-laden car destroyed a bus on the same highway in northern Israel, killing 16 passengers.

"I'm scared, but what can I do?" said Gila Shriki as she waited for bus No. 841, the same line that was hit Monday.

She was relieved when a driver said he would take her in a small taxi van for the same price, a mode of travel she reckoned was safer.

One driver on this route, Micky Harel, has survived four attacks. He's still off the job, recovering from injuries from the last one in June.