TEL AVIV (Dec. 30)
For the first time in 15 years, Israel has been hit by a wave of letter bombs. Two residents of Or Yehuda, near Tel Aviv, were slightly injured by one such device Wednesday.
It was one of 10 letter bombs, all posted from Istanbul, that arrived in Israel this week. The other nine were detected by postal employees before delivery to the addressees and safely defused.
According to Shlomo Aharonishky, the senior explosives expert at police headquarters, the letter bombs are large white envelopes containing Christmas and New Year’s greetings and several dozen grams of explosives, sufficient to cause serious injuries to face or hands.
The envelopes appear to have been addressed at random. Postmarks indicate they were mailed from Istanbul on Dec. 23. The addresses were printed on stickers and the envelopes bore the return address of “D. Nissim, Istanbul.”
The first three letter bombs were discovered Tuesday at the post office in Kiryat Arba, a Jewish township adjacent to Hebron in the West Bank. The others were found Wednesday at the central post offices in Haifa, Tel Aviv and Ramat Gan.
One was delivered to the home of the Asher family in Or Yehuda. Aviva Asher told police she began to open it, but on seeing the Christmas card inside, decided it was not intended for them and re-sealed the envelope.
She said she gave it to her brother-in-law to return to the post office. “He apparently opened it before handing it in, and it exploded, injuring him and a bystander,” she said. Both were hospitalized.
Police said the last letter bombs were received in Israel in 1972. They congratulated the postal workers for intercepting all but one of the devices.