By Miriam Elman
(Re-published from Legal Insurrection, Aug. 9, 2016) On this day 15 years ago, a Hamas terror gang based in the West Bank executed a bombing attack on a busy restaurant in the center of Jerusalem. In the horrific act of savagery 15 people were killed, including 7 children.
Two U.S. citizens were among those murdered. Four additional Americans were wounded — one severely.
In total, some 130 were injured with varying degrees of severity by the “human bomb” and his team of accomplices.
The mastermind was Ahlam Tamimi, relative of Bassem Tamimi, and a hero to this day in her home village of Nabi Saleh where international activists still protest the security barrier constructed in response to the Sbarro and dozens of other suicide bombings.
I’ll describe the attack, its victims, and the team of terrorists involved in order to underscore the disgraceful fact that for over two decades the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) has not prosecuted a single Palestinian terrorist who has killed Americans in Israel or the disputed territories, even though U.S. law requires it to do so.
Included at the end of the post is a statement exclusive for Legal Insurrection by Frimet and Arnold Roth—the parents of Malka (Malki) Roth, a 15-year-old American girl who was murdered in the Sbarro atrocity.
At 2:00pm on a hot summer day, a Palestinian terrorist entered the Sbarro Pizzeria and detonated a bomb.
Situated at the corner of King George Street and Jaffa Road in Jerusalem, probably one of the busiest pedestrian crossings in Israel, the bomb blast completely gutted the restaurant.
I ate at this Sbarro a number of times when I lived in and visited Israel. It was a popular kosher eatery, conveniently located, and a good place to bring the kids.
On August 9, 2001 the restaurant was filled with lunch-time diners—many of them children and their mothers. The street was also crowded with pedestrian traffic.
At the time, like most public spaces in Israel the pizzeria wasn’t guarded, something which enabled the human bomber to enter the place unimpeded.
According to media reports, documentation by the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and accounts piece together by those who lost loved ones in the horrific attack, the terrorist and his 10 kilogram bomb was transported by taxi to the site by a woman named Ahlam ‘Aref Ahmad al-Tamimi, also known as Ahlam Tamimi, and another Palestinian, Izz al-Din Shuheil al-Masri.
They reportedly concealed the explosives inside a guitar case. The case was also packed with nails, screws, and bolts to ensure maximum damage.
The terrorist al-Masri was killed in the blast. Tamimi escaped but was arrested a few weeks later. Hamas and Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the bombing.
In the immediate aftermath of the attack, Jerusalem municipality police closed down the PLO’s east Jerusalem headquarters (known as the Orient House) and the IDF took control of Palestinian military and political buildings at Abu Dis, just outside of Jerusalem. The IDF also attacked the PA’s West Bank police headquarters in Ramallah.
Although perpetrated by a Hamas terror cell, Israeli officials at the time held the Palestinian Authority and the late PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat complicit in the carnage. Then Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, the architect of the Oslo peace accords, reportedly said on the day of the attack:
If the Palestinian Authority had acted with the necessary determination and carried out preventive detentions of Hamas terrorists and their operators, the murders today in Jerusalem would have been prevented”.
Six weeks after the bombing an exhibit at Al Najah University in the West Bank, which included a mock-up of the Sbarro pizzeria complete with bloody plastic body parts and partially-chewed pizza crusts, glorified the attack and the bombers …
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