Teenage daughter of Jerusalem light rail attacker released from detention


The teenage daughter of the eastern Jerusalem gunman who killed two Israelis in a shooting spree in an attack on a light rail stop was released by Israeli security forces.

Eiman Abu Sbeih, 14, was released on Sunday, a week after the attack, by Israeli security forces, on condition that she stay away from Jerusalem for two months, not give interviews and not post on social media, Ynetreported. Her family also was fined about $650. Her 18-year-old brother was arrested over the weekend and her twin brother also remains in custody, the Palestinian Maan news agency reported.

The teen was arrested on Monday, hours after a video of the teen  praising her father, Misbah Abu Sbeih, 39, of the Silwan neighborhood, went viral on Facebook.

“We deem my father as martyr,” Eiman said in the video, according to Maan. “We hope he will plead for us before God on judgment day. … I am proud of what my father did.

“We’re very happy and proud of our father,” she also said. “My father is a great man. Our relationship, as father and daughter, was excellent.”

Abu Sbeih shot and killed at least one person at the Ammunition Hill light rail station in northern Jerusalem, then continued shooting as police pursued him on Oct. 9. Officers ultimately shot and killed the assailant, who had been expected to report to an Israeli prison at the time of the attack to serve a four-month sentence for assaulting a police officer in 2013.

The Hamas terror organization in Gaza claimed Abu Sbeih as one of its operatives and praised his “operation.”

Jerusalem bus bombing was Hamas suicide attack, Israel says


The recent bus bombing in Jerusalem was a suicide terror attack planned by Hamas, and several members of the cell responsible were arrested, Israeli security forces said Thursday.

The bomber was identified by the Shin Bet security service as Abed al-Hamid Abu Srour, a 19-year-old Palestinian from near Bethlehem in the West Bank. He was among the 21 people injured in the attack Monday on the No. 12 bus, and died of his injuries Wednesday.

The Shin Bet and Israeli police, who are jointly investigating the attack, partially lifted Thursday a gag order on the case.

Abu Srour, who lost both of his legs in the explosion and underwent several surgeries, died at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem. Afterward, Hamas claimed in a statement that the teenager was a member of its military wing.

Several Hamas members from Bethlehem have been arrested on suspicion of helping Abu Srour carry out the attack, according to the Shin Bet. Their names remain under gag order.

Abu Srour’s father on Thursday denied that his son was a terrorist.

“I was not expecting that my son would do such act. My son did not make me feel even for 1 percent, that he has feelings or thoughts like that. Never. I know that my son failed in one subject in his secondary schools exam and was preparing to take the exam again and pass it and focus on his future. This is the deal that we had together, me and him,” Mohammad Abu Srour said, according to The Jerusalem Post.

The family discovered a will written by Abu Srour, according to the French news agency, AFP, which cited the Hamas-affiliated Palestinian Information Center website. The Arabic website reported that Srour’s father had been asked to identify his son’s body.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health later announced the body had been identified, according to the Palestinian Maan news agency.

Six people wounded in the attack remain hospitalized, including a teenage girl in serious condition.

The victims had burns on their upper bodies, as well as wounds from nails and ball bearings packed into the explosive device. The wounds, according to Avi Rivkind, head of Hadassah’s trauma unit, were similar to those from previous Jerusalem terror attacks.

The attack was the first bus bombing in Israel in several years. Such attacks terrorized Israelis during the second intifada, a violent Palestinian uprising from 2000-2005.

The attack followed a six-month wave of Palestinian stabbings and shooting attacks in Jerusalem, the West Bank and across Israel. The rate of the attacks had slowed to normal levels, though Israeli officials remained concerned about a flare-up in violence surrounding upcoming religious holidays, including Passover.

Suspected suicide bomber had fake U.S. I.D.; Surveillance camera captures image


A suicide bomber carried out an attack that killed seven people in a bus transporting Israeli tourists in Bulgaria, the interior minister said on Thursday, and Israel said Iranian-backed Hezbollah militants were to blame.

Iran denied it was behind Wednesday’s attack at Burgas airport, a popular gateway for tourists visiting the Black Sea coast.

Video surveillance footage showed the bomber was similar in appearance to tourists arriving at the airport, Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov said.

The bomber had been circling around a group of buses, which were about to take Israeli tourists to a resort near Burgas, for about an hour before the explosion, the footage showed.

“We have established there was a person who was a suicide bomber in this attack. This person had a fake driving license from the United States, from the state of Michigan,” Tsvetanov told reporters at the airport.

“He looked like anyone else – a normal person with Bermuda shorts and a backpack,” he said.

The bomber was said to be 36 years old and had been in the country for between four and seven days before the attack.

Special forces had managed to obtain DNA samples from the fingers of the bomber and were now checking databases in an attempt to identify him, Tsvetanov said.

The foreign ministry said seven people were killed in the attack, including the Bulgarian bus driver and the bomber. The Israeli foreign ministry confirmed that five Israelis were killed.

The tourists had arrived in Bulgaria on a charter flight from Israel and were on the bus in the airport car park when the blast tore through the vehicle. Body parts were strewn across the ground, mangled metal hung from the double-decker bus’s ripped roof and black smoke billowed over the airport.

AIRPORT CLOSED

On Thursday, the airport in Burgas – a city of 200,000 people at the center of a string of seaside resorts – remained closed and police prevented people from approaching.

Beyond the cordons, about 100 holidaymakers waited for their flights but had been told they would be there until midnight. Officials were setting up portable toilets and tents for stranded travelers and Bulgaria’s parliament opened with a one minute silence in memory of the bombing victims.

“It felt like an earthquake and then I saw flying pieces of meat,” said Georgi Stoev, an airport official. “It was horrible, just like in a horror movie.”

“Yesterday’s attack in Bulgaria was perpetrated by Hezbollah, Iran’s leading terrorist proxy,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. “We will continue to fight against Iranian terror. It will not defeat us. We will act against it with great force.”

Israel however indicated it would not hasten into any open conflict with Iran or Hezbollah.

Defence Minister Ehud Barak said Israel would “do everything possible in order to find those responsible, and those who dispatched them, and punish them” – language that appeared to suggest covert action against individuals.

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev linked the arrest of a foreigner in Cyprus this month on suspicion of plotting an attack on Israeli tourists there with the Bulgaria bombing.

“The suspect who was arrested in Cyprus, in his interrogation, revealed an operational plan that is almost identical to what happened in Bulgaria. He is from Hezbollah … this is a further indication of Hezbollah and Iran’s direct responsibility,” he told Reuters.

“BASELESS ACCUSATIONS”

Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman dismissed Israel’s “baseless accusations” that Tehran was involved in the bombing.

The blast occurred on the 18th anniversary of a bomb attack on Argentina’s main Jewish organization that killed 85 people. Argentina blamed Iran, which denied responsibility.

Medical officials said two badly injured Israeli tourists were taken to hospitals in Bulgaria’s capital Sofia. One woman was in intensive care with head and chest injuries and a man was in a critical state with burns covering 55 percent of his body.

About 70 Israeli tourists, including those lightly injured by the blast, left Burgas on a Bulgarian government airplane to Israel, the interior ministry said.

The European Commission and NATO condemned the attack, joining criticism from the United States, Britain, France and Germany, and the mayor of Burgas announced a day of mourning.

Israeli officials had previously said that Bulgaria, a popular destination for Israeli tourists, was vulnerable to attack by Islamist militants, who could infiltrate via Turkey.

Israeli diplomats have been targeted in several countries in recent months by bombers who Israel said struck on behalf of Iran.

Some analysts believe Iran is trying to avenge the assassinations of several scientists from its nuclear program, which Israel and Western powers fear is aimed at developing a nuclear bomb.

Iran insists its uranium enrichment work is strictly for peaceful ends. Both Israel and the United States have not ruled out military action against Iranian nuclear facilities.

Additional reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova in Sofia, Maayan Lubell in Jerusalem and Madeline Chambers in Berlin; Writing by Sam Cage; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Giles Elgood

Would-be suicide bomber tells Gaza children to be like her


A would-be Palestinian suicide bomber freed by Israel in the prisoner swap for soldier Gilad Shalit told cheering schoolchildren in the Gaza Strip the day after her release Wednesday she hoped they would follow her example.

“I hope you will walk the same path we took and God willing, we will see some of you as martyrs,” Wafa al-Biss told dozens of children who came to her home in the northern Gaza Strip.

Biss was traveling to Beersheba’s Soroka hospital for medical treatment in 2005 when Israeli soldiers at the Erez border crossing noticed she was walking strangely. They found 10 kgs (22 lbs) of explosives had been sewn into her underwear.

A member of al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an offshoot of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party, Biss was sentenced to a 12-year term for planning to blow herself up.

After she spoke, the children cheered and waved Palestinian flags and chanted: “We will give souls and blood to redeem the prisoners. We will give souls and blood for you, Palestine.”

Biss said she had planned to blow herself up at the checkpoint but her detonator malfunctioned.

“Unfortunately, the button did not work at the last minute before I was to be martyred,” Biss told Reuters.

She said she had not yet adjusted to her freedom and arose early Wednesday for prison roll call.

“This morning I woke up in my room, wore my scarf and stood up awaiting the line-up time before I realized I was home and not in jail,” she said.

“We will pursue our struggle and [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Nentanyahu] knows that. Arrests will not deter us from our strong battles and confrontation in the face of Zionist arrogance in the land of Palestine,” she said.

Biss was one of 477 Palestinians freed by Israel Tuesday in the first stage of an exchange with Gaza’s Hamas Islamist rulers that ended Shalit’s five years of captivity. Another 550 Palestinans will be freed in the second stage later this year.

Reporting by Nidal Almughrabi, Editing by Ori Lewis and Peter Graff

Iran unveils long-range drone bomber


Iran’s president unveiled the country’s first domestically built unmanned long-range bomber.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday revealed the drone prototype, called Karar, on a state television broadcast, according to reports.

“The jet, as well as being an ambassador of death for the enemies of humanity, has a main message of peace and friendship,” Ahmadinejad reportedly said during the unveiling.

“The main message of Karar bomber is to prevent any kind of aggression and conflict” against the Islamic Republic, he said. 

The high-speed drone can carry two 250-pound bombs or a 500-pound precision missile, according to Iranian state television.

The unveiling comes a day after Iran began loading uranium into its Russian-built Bushehr nuclear reactor, ahead of the activation of the power plant.

Bomber Hits Israeli Shopping Mall


An Islamic Jihad terrorist blew himself up Monday outside the Sharon Mall in Netanya, which has seen several such attacks due to its proximity to the West Bank. At least five people were killed and more than 50 wounded. The bomber was identified as a 21-year-old man from the West Bank.

Israel responded by closing the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and launched a military crackdown in the West Bank on Tuesday. Israeli troops swept into the suicide bomber’s home village near Tulkarm, arresting his father and three brothers, witnesses said.

Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said the action against Islamic Jihad would be comprehensive and long-lasting.

Sensing that the situation could spiral out of control, P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the bombing and pledged to arrest those responsible.

Chaim Amram, 26, the security guard on duty, took the suspect aside as he approached the mall around 11:30 a.m. Amram pushed him against the wall, but it was too late — the bomber triggered his explosives, killing Amram and four others. Dozens more were wounded.

The victims had little in common except for the fatal timing of their visit to the Sharon Mall, the major shopping center in the seaside city of Netanya.

A few feet away from Amram, Iliya Rosen, 38, a psychologist and mother of three, was just leaving the mall after a shopping expedition for clothes for the job she was scheduled to begin next week. She, too, was killed instantly by the blast.

Rosen had walked speedily out of the mall, telling a friend that she didn’t feel comfortable being there.

Her friend, identified by her first name, Orit, in the Israeli media, said she teased her, saying, “I asked her ‘Where are you rushing to, are you scared of being in the next terror attack?'”

A moment later, Rosen was dead.

Dani Golani, 45, who had come from Nahariya to Netanya to explore whether he might open a clothing store in the mall, also was among those killed. Active in Nahariya local politics, he was remembered warmly by friends and family.

“It was hard to separate him from his smile. He loved to live, and loved his family,” said Tzion Lankari, a Nahariya council member and long-time friend of Golani.

The attack also took the life of Alexandra Gramitzky, 65, who immigrated to Israel in 1997 from Ukraine, where she had worked as an accounts manager. She lived in Netanya with her son and his family.

The youngest victim of the bombing was Keinan Tzoami, who celebrated his 20th birthday last month. Tzoami was remembered as a good-natured young man with lots of friends. He worked with his father at a family carpentry business.

His grandmother entered the house where he had lived with his parents and wailed, “Bring me my grandson. I just want my grandson.”

Sharon’s right-wing rivals in the Likud Party — which he left last month, founding a new, centrist party to compete in March 28 general elections — lost no time in condemning him.

“Thanks to Sharon, we risk seeing a terror base being created right next to the Dan region,” said legislator Uzi Landau, who withdrew from the Likud primary race Monday to endorse the front-runner, Benjamin Netanyahu. “Today’s terror attack is only a sign of things to come.”

On the left, Labor Party leader Amir Peretz was quick to call for an “all-out crackdown on terror” while also appealing to Israeli doves by vowing, if he’s elected prime minister, to withdraw from large areas of the West Bank.

Mofaz ordered a resumption of air strikes aimed at killing Palestinian terrorists involve in producing and launching rockets.

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A Real ‘Baby Boomer’


Israelis are outraged by a picture of a Palestinian baby dressed as a suicide bomber. The baby was photographed wearing a mock suicide bomber’s uniform, complete with sticks of fake explosives and a red headband that read Hamas. Israeli newspapers published the photograph, seized in a raid on a suspected terrorist’s home in Hebron, on June 27. The baby’s family described the costume as a "joke," but a Palestinian journalist said such costumes were common among Palestinians. A Palestinian Authority official said Israel distributed the picture to "tell the world that the Palestinians are teaching their children how to hate Israel and how to act against Israel — and I just want to say this is correct," Ha’aretz reported. — Jewish Telegraphic Agency

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