Attorney from Philadelphia Becomes 15th to Die from July 6 Bus Attack

Rita Levine, a 39-year-old attorney from Philadelphia, died here Tuesday of injuries suffered when an Egged bus plunged into a ravine and caught fire on July 6, after an Arab aboard grabbed the steering wheel.

Her death at Hadassah University Hospital in Ein Kerem brought the toll from the attack to 15 fatalities. She was the only one of seven Americans wounded in the crash to succumb to her injuries. Two of the dead were Canadians and the rest were Israelis.

Of the 27 injured in the bus crash, five are still hospitalized.

The Arab perpetrator, a resident the Gaza Strip, was among the injured. Israeli authorities have branded his action a terrorist attack related to the 19-month-old Palestinian uprising.

According to Hadassah Hospital spokeswoman Ruth Mekel, Levine sustained severe spinal cord injuries. Her body was to be flown to the United States on Wednesday for burial.

A 1974 graduate of Temple University Law School, Levine was on a six-month leave from her job as a public defender and was believed to be contemplating aliyah.

She was studying Hebrew at Ulpan Akiva in Netanya and boarded the bus to Jerusalem on July 6 to take an Israeli bar examination in criminal law and criminal procedure.

Her sister, Joan Levine, said last week that “Rita wanted to combine her U.S. experience with an Israeli degree so she could practice law in both countries.”

Levine was certified by the Israel Bar Association in two of the nine examinations she completed, at an awards ceremony July 12, six days before her death.

Another of her sisters, Helen Ross, said on the occasion: “Rita says, and everyone knows, the incident was one of terrorism.

“For us, however, this incident is not a political issue, but a family issue,” she said. “It would be inappropriate to politicize such a case.”

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