(Video) Terror returns to Israel: A suicide bomber struck Wednesday afternoon in the town of Hadera, north of Tel Aviv, killing five people. The Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack.
Scene of terror attack in Hadera (Video: Nadav Herschkowitz)
The victims of the terror attack are: Yaakov Rachmani, 68, of Hadera; Jamil Qa'adan, 48, of the Israeli-Arab town of Baqa al-Gahrbiya; Farhiya Machluf, 53, of Hadera; Michael Keufman, 68, of Hadera; and Sabicha Nissim, 66, of Moshav Ahituv.
Extensive devastation was reported at the scene of the blast, at the corner of Herbert Samuel and Rothschild streets. About 20 people were hurt in the explosion, including six who sustained serious wounds, the Magen David Adom ambulance service said. The injured were evacuated to Laniado hospital in Netanya and Hillel Yaffe hospital in Hadera.
Police officials received a report about a white vehicle seen fleeing the scene. Security officials say they had no specific warning of the terror plot prior to the attack. Meanwhile, security forces across the nation have stepped up operations and boosted the alert level in the wake of the bombing.
Senior Islamic Jihad figure Abu al-Muamen told Ynet the attack came in response to the killing of the group’s West Bank terror leader Louie Sa’adi earlier this week. He said the attack was only an initial response and added his group and other Palestinian organizations are expected to respond with more attacks. However, al-Muamen refused to officially claim responsibility for the attack.
Palestinian sources named the terrorist as Hassan abu-Zayed, a 20-year-old Islamic Jihad activist from West Bank town of Kabatiya, near Jenin
Earlier, Palestinian sources told Ynet the attack was likely the work of Islamic Jihad and came in response to the killing of Sa’adi. However, the sources said another organization may have cooperated with the Islamic Jihad in carrying out the attack.
The Islamic Jihad vowed to “shake up Israel” in retaliation for Sa’adi’s killing.
IDF assessing situation
Assaf Gilad, the owner of a nearby restaurant, said, “I put a hamburger on the grill, and suddenly there was a large explosion, a boom. It was quiet for a few seconds; then people began to scream for help. The smell of gunfire and burnt flesh was in the air.”
“I believe we were lucky, because between the hours of 3 to 5:30 p.m. the market is still calm and there are not a lot of people,” he said.
Yehuda Gelber, whose son Tzvika was killed in a terror attack at the Megiddo Junction three years ago, arrived at the scene with a life-size portrait of his son in army attire.
Scene of terror attack in Hadera (Photo: Nadav Herschkowitz)
“My son was burned to death; where is the defense minister, where is the chief of staff, where is the prime minister – those who had promised us security. Where is the security? The ministers should come here and personally protect us,” he said.
As a result of the blast, security forces have increased their operations throughout the country, including boosting the alert level at checkpoints and entry into towns.
The IDF's central command and the branch of operations have started to evaluate the security situation in wake of the attack.
The evaluations will be submitted to the Chief of Staff Dan Halutz.
The army has acted on several suicide attack alerts recently, and arrested a few suspected terrorists.
Internal Security Minister Gideon Ezra said, “There was no specific warning regarding an attack in Hadera, and therefore we could not have prevented it. I call for targeted action against terror groups and the terrorists who were behind the attack," he said.
“We cannot deploy in every direction. We live under limitations of manpower and a budget, but I assumer that in light of the recent attack we will have to allocate more forces toward the (West Bank) security fence. Even on this day, it is important to remember that the security forces have succeeded in preventing many terror attacks in the past- this time we failed.”
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said upon his return from meeting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak: "This morning the Egyptian president said that the Islamic Jihad and Hamas are planning attacks. This evening we will hold a situation analysis to determine what happened and we will do whatever is necessary to protect the citizens of Israel."
The Egyptians, for their part, have agreed to apply pressure on the PA so it would strengthen its security forces and advance the collection of arms from the various terror groups.
Hillel Yaffe Hospital (Hadera): 12-55-166
Laniado Hospital (Netanya): 12-55-191
Meir Hospital (Kfar Saba): 12-55-199
Security forces went on high alert following the targeted killing of Sa’adi in Tul Karm last Sunday.
About two weeks ago three Israelis were killed when terrorists opened fire from a passing car at a hitchhiking post in Gush Etzion.
Ali Waked, Ahiya Raved and Efrat Weiss contributed to the report