TEL AVIV (May. 14)
A bomb blast in the crowded main street of Tiberias killed two people and injured 37 this afternoon. Five of the injured, reported in serious condition, were rushed by helicopter to the Rambam Hospital in Haifa after the facilities at nearby Poriya Hospital proved inadequate for the emergency surgery required. Most of the other injured were treated at Poriya.
According to police, the bomb exploded at 3 p.m. local time in a trash can chained to a telephone pole just as a local bus passed by. Several passengers were among the casualties. Eight ambulances from the Red Magan David first aid station were on the scene in minutes to evacuate the wounded. Police cordoned off the area and after a search for additional bombs, the road was reopened to traffic.
The latest terrorist outrage was apparently timed to coincide with the beginning of the Lag Ba’omer festival when thousands of Orthodox Jews come to Tiberias to pay homage to Rabbi Meir Baal Hanes whose tomb is located there or pass through the town on the way to Miron, near Safad where another sage, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, is buried. Hagalil Street, the main thoroughfare in Tiberias on the shores of the Sea of Golilee, is also the highway leading to Miron. The street was jammed with vehicles and pedestrians today as were the municipal gardens directly opposite the site of the explosion.
Log Ba’omer began officially at 1 p.m. and by then tens of thousands of pilgrims had established themselves in a tent city on the slopes of Mt. Miron, protected by police and army first aid stations. Thousands more continued to pour into Tiberias despite the tragedy. The festival was celebrated in other parts of Israel. Bonfires lit the skies over Safad, Haifa, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem at sundown. The local fire brigades are always kept busy on these occasions. Tonight there was an additional alert for terrorist acts.